Targeted Molecular Imaging and Cancer Research Lab

Schultz Lab

Dr. Schultz's research interests involve the development of synthetic-bioactive molecular targeting vectors for imaging and therapy of cancer. Molecular targeting involves identification of G-protein coupled receptors and other cell surface antigens and the development of targeting vectors that selectively bind to these antigens. Vectors include synthetically-modified peptides, small molecules, targeted nanoparticles, and RNA “aptamers”. Multimodality imaging probes are designed for use with positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and fluorescence imaging techniques. Dr. Schultz’s lab focuses on identification of cell surface receptors that are unique to specific cell types (e.g., melanoma, prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors) and use of bioconjugate chemistry to develop targeting vectors that not only bind specifically to these cell surface antigens, but deliver a reporter signal that can be recognized by PET, SPECT, MRI, and optical technologies for in vivo imaging, as well as delivery radiation dose precisely to malignancy in vivo.

Optimizing these targeting vectors includes examining molecular modifications that alter their pharmacokinetics and biodistribution for improved cancer cell targeting. Radionuclides used for imaging include fluorine-18, carbon-11, gallium-68, indium-111, copper-64, and others. These targeting vectors can also be used to precisely deliver radionuclides therapies to cancerous tumors while minimizing dose to healthy cells in vivo. To impart improved molecular targeting characteristics to peptides, small molecules, RNA aptamers, and nanoparticles, the Schultz laboratory examines a variety of bioconjugate chemistry approaches include novel methods in copper-free click chemistry approaches to organic synthesis.

List of Projects that use Imaging Resources:

  1. Multivalent Molecular Targeting Vectors for Image Guided Radionuclide Therapy of Metastatic Melanoma
  2. Development of mitochondrial targeted small molecules for radionuclide imaging and cancer therapy
  3. Peptides for Imaging Neuroendocrine Tumors in Children and Adults.
  4. Porphyrazines for Imaging and Therapy of Breast Cancer.
  5. RNA Aptamers for Imaging Prostate Cancer.
  6. Peptides for Imaging Medulloblastoma in Children.
  7. Nanoparticles for imaging and therapy of cancer.