Molecular imaging has gained an important part in oncology. Both diagnosis and treatment rely on molecular information which accounts for heterogeneity and differences in prognosis and treatment sensitivity. The individually determined tumor characteristics are instrumental in targeted therapy to reduce unnecessary side-effects and costs of treating patients not likely to have benefit. Here, an imaging approach is a valuable adjunct to histological characterization and the only method to evaluate both primary and metastatic lesions simultaneously. Second, molecular imaging is an excellent tool to show proof-of principle in vivo in patients enrolled to a clinical protocol where a novel biologically active agent is studied.
Turku PET Centre has been active in developing oncologic PET imaging over two decades. Initially focus was on methodological aspects such as effect of metabolic status of patient on tumor imaging and comparison of different quantitative methods for measuring uptake of [18F]FDG and [11C]methionine in a variety of solid tumors and lymphoma. At the outset major emphasis has been to strengthen the collaboration between oncologists and other clinical disciplines treating cancer patients to ensure rapid transfer of findings to clinical practice. Currently increasing collaboration with basic scientists, pharma and radiation oncology community aims at developing new molecular probes for drug development and targeted and more conformal radiotherapy techniques such as image-assisted treatment planning.
The oncology group has recently participated in the EU sponsored molecular imaging programme ‘BioCare’. Major international collaborators include Universities of Aarhus, Bologna, Louvain and Pennsylvania. We invite both academic and industry collaborators for projects where focus is on tracer development and provide services from the Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, University Hospital of Turku which treats all major cancers as a tertiary referral center. We have extensive preclinical research group and access to multiple experimental tumor models from the Turku Center for Disease Modeling. We connect also with several molecular medicine research groups abundant on campus.