Prostate cancer localization by contrast-ultrasound angiogenesis imaging

Prize: ERCStartingScientific


Prostate cancer causes over 1/4 of new cancer cases and 1/10 of cancer deaths in western males. Efficient methods for early treatment are available. Many lives could therefore be saved by early cancer detection, but this is not viable due to the inadequacy of the available noninvasive diagnostics. Systematic biopsy is the only reliable detection technique, but it is hampered by high costs and causes serious discomfort and health risks because of its invasiveness. Moreover, precise cancer localization is not possible, impeding the use of available focal treatments. This research will push the frontiers of prostate cancer diagnostics by a revolutionary method for localization of cancer angiogenesis (microvascular growth). Different from all methods for angiogenesis imaging, invariably based on the assessment of blood perfusion, I aim at quantifying the local dispersion dynamics of an intravascular tracer. Dispersion is the spreading process of the tracer within the vasculature, which I firmly believe to correlate much better than perfusion with microvascular architectures and, therefore, with cancer angiogenesis. The assessment of local dispersion is challenging and will be pursued through an intravenous injection of an ultrasound contrast bolus and novel spatiotemporal analysis of the bolus passage through the prostate circulation, measured by three-dimensional ultrasound imaging. If successful, the proposed method will represent a breakthrough for early noninvasive and accurate prostate cancer localization, precise focal treatment, and treatment follow-up, with strong potential for use for other types of cancers, such as breast cancer. Moreover, this method will facilitate further groundbreaking research in the therapeutic control of angiogenesis in several pathologies. This exciting research builds on my multidisciplinary expertise in ultrasound contrast dilution methods and on consistent and successful collaborations with leading clinical and industrial partners.
Degree of recognitionInternational
OrganisationsEuropean Research Council