Pre-clinical Imaging

Visualising biological functions in vivo to accelerate disease understanding and drug development

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.

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)