In order to develop new approaches in radiation therapy, experiments on animals, mostly mice, are necessary. The group "Preclinical imaging for Radiooncology" specializes in investigating laboratory animals with innovative imaging techniques. These preclinical modalities are similar to the modern methods used in humans. However, thea were specially adapted to fit the needs in small animals (e.g. micro-CT, small animal PET/MRI, small animal ultrasound and optical imaging).
The effect of radiation on tumors can be verified in animal experiments with different methods. One standard method is to transplant human tumor tissue (e.g. from lung or brain tumors) subcutaneously, i.e. under the skin. as they are located directly under the skin, they can be monitored and irradiated with simple methods without endangering the internal organs of the experimental animals. However, this standard method also has different disadvantages. In the case of human tumors, the so-called microenvironment of the tumor plays an important role for response to radiation therapy. Numerous studies suggest that these properties of human tumors can be better reflected by experimental orthotopic tumors, i.e. tumor growth at the site of the tissue of origin. Therefore, in orthotopic tumor models the human tumor tissue is transplanted into the corresponding organ of origin, for example into the lung or brain of the experimental animal. However, the application of this method and its effect on endpoints and questions in radiobiological experiments has so far been little investigated. Thus, an important goal of the research group is a systematic comparison of orthotopic tumor models and their subcutaneous counterparts under radiooncological aspects.