× Medicines Discovery Catapult

Pre-clinical imaging allows a non-invasive assessment of biochemical and biological processes in a living subject. Monitoring, assessing, and characterising novel therapeutics in pre-clinical models is an essential part of drug development.

All drugs have an optimum concentration range in which maximum benefit is achieved, for example, so pre-clinical imaging approaches can help scientists optimise the selective delivery of a therapeutic concentration of drug to its target tissue.

However, studies require significant investment in infrastructure, access to relevant disease models and highly experienced staff, typically only available in large organisations.

We are looking for collaborations with:

  • SMEs seeking guidance in employing in vivo imaging in their drug discovery and development programmes
  • Academics or SMEs developing novel technologies and labels to further develop pre-clinical imaging methods
  • Academics or SMEs developing novel drug delivery methods for targeted delivery

Imaging solutions enable quantification of:

  • Organ accumulation – pharmacokinetics (PK), biodistribution
  • Target expression or engagement – stratification
  • Biological activity – pharmacodynamics (PD), optimal biological dose
  • Toxicities or drug-drug interactions – safety, drug combination studies
  • Surrogacy for clinical endpoint – efficacy
3D bone scan by Computed Tomography
3D bone scan by Computed Tomography

Our aims through collaborative R&D

  • Make state-of-the-art imaging technologies and expertise available to companies developing new drugs
  • Develop and validate new imaging methods, biomarkers and platforms in vivo and ex vivo
  • Progress the development of new drug modalities e.g. antisense oligonucleotides, modified RNA and nanoparticles
  • Provide a unique platform of pre-clinical imaging data alongside mass spectrometry imaging, biomarker insights, pathology and molecular analyses that provides deeply informative data sets for better project decision-making

Our work in pre-clinical tissue imaging will allow SMEs to:

  • Access pre-clinical imaging expertise including protocol design, image acquisition, image analyses and interpretation, reporting, and manuscript preparations.
  • Access pre-clinical imaging technologies to understand the in vivo effects of their drug e.g. biodistribution and PK / PD
  • De-risk candidate drugs by understanding in vivo safety and efficacy end-points and providing translational biomarkers
  • Compare imaging data with data from other technologies using the same samples
  • Develop new technologies that will advance our understanding of disease and drug response
Ultrasound scan of a tumour
Image of Zr labelled liposome distribution with PET
89Zr labelled liposome distribution with PET (spleen and liver – 1 hour post distribution)