The overarching objective of Immune-Image is to develop a novel non-invasive imaging strategy for assessing immune cell activation and dynamics in oncology and inflammatory disease, in animal models and in patients.

Immunotherapies have become one of the most effective treatment options in cancer and inflammatory disease. The efficiency of immunotherapies depends on drug response, which is systemic, spatial and dynamic, therefore, careful selection and monitoring of therapy is paramount. Most importantly, optimal treatment outcome depends on the localization and expression levels of immunotherapeutic drug targets, successful activation and modulation of the immune system, as well as its relevance to the specific pathology in the individual patient.

Detailed knowledge about these dynamic processes will help to maximise the potential of immunotherapy, leading to a long lasting and potentially curative treatment. However, variations between patients and individual disease characteristics limit the broad applicability and success of immunotherapies. Therefore, to improve patient response, the treatment approach should be chosen on an individual basis, i.e. in a personalised medicine approach, and continuously guided to adapt to changes in the key factors mentioned above.

To reach this clinical goal, the immune status of each individual patient needs to be assessed at both the disease sites and at a systemic level. Advanced (molecular) imaging techniques such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) provide a means for non-invasive whole body visualization of tissue targets and hence the immune status. This can benefit both the patient and the clinician in terms of optimal understanding of the disease state as well as selection and monitoring of treatment. Enabling such imaging-guided personalised strategies is the ultimate goal of Immune-Image.

Researchers involved

dr. Conny van der Laken (rheumatology), dr. Sander Tas (rheumatology), dr. Willemien Menke (oncologie), prof.dr. Bert Windhorst (Radiology & Nuclear Medicine, overall PI of the project), dr. Wissam Beaino (Radiology & Nuclear Medicine), prof.dr. G. van Dongen (Radiology & Nuclear Medicine), dr. D. Vugts (Radiology & Nuclear Medicine).