The Advanced Translational Imaging Facility (ATIF) is located in the Petit Science Center on the Georgia State University Atlanta Campus. After receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health and Georgia State, the facility purchased a state-of-the-art MRI scanner in 2021 to serve as a significant MRI and MRS resource to Georgia State researchers and their collaborators to study small animal imaging and spectroscopy.
ATIF houses a 7T Bruker 70/20 Biospec 20 cm MRI scanner, a surgery area for animal preparation, and supporting equipment for anesthetizing and monitoring animals, and collecting data.
The use of small animal models to study normal development, progression of human disease and treatment of human disease has become widespread in the scientific community. Traditional approaches to anatomical and physiological monitoring often rely on pathology on animals sacrificed periodically during a study. However, in many cases, analysis after sacrifice may not be the best choice. Fixed tissues prepared from euthanized animals may not accurately reflect metabolic states or transient interactions present in live animals' tissues. In addition, many animals need to be observed at each time point of a longitudinal study to reduce the effects of population variations.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) of cells, tissue, organ, animals provide both in vivo and ex vivo imaging, and detection of morphological and dynamic changes without depth limitation. It can also capture longitudinal events with improved quality of data and reduce the number of animals (3R, Reduction, Replacement and Refine) used.
The major work at GSU involves the use of small animal models for:
- Development of new probes and imaging methodology for diagnosis, detection, and monitoring treatment of various diseases;
- Understanding the molecular mechanism of human diseases such as CNS, cancer, fibrosis, obesity and heart disease;
- Drug discovery for treatment of these diseases
The Facility houses our state-of-the-art, high resolution 7T Bruker 70/20 Biospec 20 cm MRI for imaging mice and rats or phantoms, advanced MRI and MRS techniques available for non-invasive morphological, physiological and biochemical, and spectroscopic measurements. The 7T magnet allows MRI and MRS tissue imaging at a high level of resolution (50 microns) and several images in a second (high temporal resolution).
Imaging methods include:
- Relaxometric measurements (T1, T2 and T2* mapping) for contrast agent development
- Quantitative diffusion mapping (DWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for tumor studies
- Quantization of vascular leakiness and permeability of tissue (tumors) using MRI contrast agents.
- Spectroscopic imaging 2D CSI (chemical shift imaging) of 1H metabolites to monitor cellular response to therapy.
- 1H Single voxel spectroscopic measurements using PRESS/STEAM/LASER methods for metabolites measurements
- BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent contrast) measurements for animal fMRI studies
The Facility is also equipped with a surgery area for animal preparation and a wide variety of supporting equipment, including anesthesia machines, MR compatible physiological monitors (cardiac /respiratory gating /temperature monitoring units) and heating pads.
Given the broad use of development of reagents for animal imaging and theronostic research, ATIF is actualizing a broadly distributed center model to catalyze the growth of a collaborative and coherent Atlanta translational research community, referred to as the Atlanta Translational Imaging Consortium (ATIC), that include the following universities:
- Clark Atlanta University’s Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development CCRTD
- Emory University’s Center for Systems Imaging
- Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center
- Georgia State\Georgia Tech’s Center for Advanced Brain Imaging
ATIC will establish, expand, and maintain core user accessibility and pool expertise to:
- Acquire/upgrade cutting edge and complementary equipment (S10 grants)
- Translate research in development of probes, contrast agents and drug candidates to clinical application
- Increase access to equipment and expertise
- Increase capability for data collection and imaging analysis
- Share animal models and expertise for translational research
- Increase funding for animal related research
- Promote education and knowledge exchanges for training and workforce sharing
- Facilitate hiring and growth in translational research