Molecular Imaging2021-02-10T17:16:20+00:00

Molecular Imaging

The aim of our research is to design, develop and validate cutting-edge molecular imaging agents. These non-invasive imaging agents have been applied to further our understanding of cancer biology in vivo and to solve important clinical unmet need.

Specifically, the development of a new generation of molecular imaging agents have been designed to image the aberrant activity of key antioxidant pathways that are causal to drug resistance in cancer. Together with cell death-specific imaging agents and non-invasive readouts of tumour metabolism, we are building a platform to assess and predict the efficacy of conventional and novel (bio)therapeutics in living subjects. We are currently focused on imaging response to therapy in ovarian, lung and head and neck cancer but welcome collaborations across all cancer types.

PET/CT imaging of tumour response to chemotherapy with [18F]FSPG, one of the molecular imaging agents. D0-6, days post-treatment. Adapted from McCormick et al. 2019. Cancer Res 79, pp.853-63.

PET/CT imaging of tumour response to chemotherapy with [18F]FSPG, one of the molecular imaging agents. D0-6, days post-treatment. Adapted from McCormick et al. 2019. Cancer Res 79, pp.853-63.


Dr Oskar Vilhelmsson Timmermand
Dr Oskar Vilhelmsson TimmermandPostdoctoral Research Associate

Academic Lead


Apart from standard equipment for synthetic chemistry, our core is equipped with radio-HPLCs, radio-TLCs, LC-MS and TLC-MS for new radiochemistry and validation of new radiopharmaceuticals (chelators, peptides, antibodies, nanoparticles). We also have strong links with the PET Centre (with cyclotron and hot cell facilities and providing radioisotopes such as F-18, C-11, Cu-64, Cu-61, N-13, etc.) and Nuclear Medicine (providing access to isotopes such as Tc-99m, Ga-68 etc). We are experienced in radiolabelling antibodies, cells and peptides, enabling longitudinal and quantitative tracking of these in vivo, to aid in understanding their in vivo behaviour and pharmacokinetics.

  • Agilent 1260 Infinity II HPLCs coupled to Raytest GabiNova radioanalytical detectors, and Raytest Minigita radio-TLC readers. These instruments will enable rapid analysis of radiochemical reactions, and hence development of new radiochemical platforms and radiopharmaceuticals.
  • Advion mass spectrometer coupled with radio-HPLC/TLC. This system provides allows rapid, robust, user-friendly TLC-MS and HPLC-MS analysis, with interchangeable ionisation modes (electrospray, atmospheric pressure chemical). It has multiple input channels, allowing concurrent UV, mass and radio analysis.

Our biological facility includes tissue culture, molecular biology and histology labs that permit in vitro evaluations of the new radiopharmaceuticals for immune cell tracking and monitoring immunotherapy response.

  • BD Biosciences FACS Melody Benchtop Cell Sorter. This new FACS instrument uniquely enables on-site sorting of radioactive cells, essential for cell tracking work in cell-based therapy and regenerative medicine research. Combined with on-site gamma/beta counters, it will allow measurement of accumulation and retention of radioactivity in sorted cell populations from co-culture or harvested from animals or patients.

Our preclinical facility is equipped with Mediso NanoPET-CT™ and NanoSPECT/CT™, and IVIS® Spectrum in vivo imaging system for preclinical small animal imaging with an on-site BSU to house research animals. For access and prices, please contact our Preclinical Operations Manager, Dr Kavitha Sunassee.

Collaborative Projects

  • Detection of response to platinum-based chemotherapy in animal models of high grade serous ovarian cancer (Fran Balkwill, QMUL)
  • Imaging immune-mediated cell death (industrial collaboration, GSK)
  • Early imaging readouts of response to radiation therapy in head and neck cancer (Teresa Guerrero Urbano, KCL and Crispin Hiley, UCL)

Additional Information

Protocol for small animal positron emission tomography imaging: T.H. Witney and D.Y. Lewis (2019). Imaging Cancer Metabolism with Positron Emission Tomography (PET). In: Haznadar M. (eds) Cancer Metabolism. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1928. Humana Press, New York, NY.

For an up-to-date list of our publications, see:

Dr Tim Witney
Dr Tim WitneyWellcome Trust Senior Research Associate and Senior Lecturer