Driving development and research with state-of-the-art imaging resources

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Driving development and research with state-of-the-art imaging resources

Get Started

Welcome to STTARR

Together the STTARR Program and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s Radiation Medicine Program provide a platform for cutting-edge multidisciplinary research that is unmatched anywhere in the world.

STTARR has advanced imaging and state-of-the-art ORs to support serial molecular and anatomic imaging of tumours and normal tissues prior to, during and following radiotherapy.

Since 2019,

12,450

samples have been processed

Trusted by over

15,000

researchers

Over

125

years of experience

Innovation

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Cutting-edge technologies for multidisciplinary research

STTARR’s advanced imaging instruments and experimental capabilities include CT, MR, PET, SPECT, ultrasound, photoacoustics, optical and radiation therapy. The STTARR Correlative Pathology Laboratory is equipped with innovative technology enabling whole-mount pathology in a systematic way, to preserve the geometric integrity of the sample, ensuring accurate correlation to in vivo imaging. STTARR also has a cell culture facility and dedicated wet lab space for developing new contrast agents, molecular probes and radiotracers.

Services

STTARR OFFERS THE SERVICES AND FACILITIES NEEDED FOR TRANSATIONAL DRUG DEVELOPMENT AND PRECLINICAL RESEARCH.

Pre-Clinical

Computational

Pathology

What Services Do We Offer?

A comprehensive list of what our services include

Preclinical Imaging
  • Optical and bioluminescence imaging
  • High resolution 3D ultrasound imaging
  • 1.5T MR simulator
  • PET-CT
  • Precision image-guided flat-panel cone-beam CT treatment units
  • Pulsed-dose-rate and high-dose-rate brachytherapy facilities
Correlative Pathology & Autoradiography
  • Handling and processing of wet fixed tissue and frozen tissue
  • Sectioning of fixed tissue blocks
  • Cryostat sectioning
Data Visualization, Analysis & Quantification
  • High resolution whole slide scanning
  • Image analysis
  • Data storage
Isotopes & Radiotracers
  • Need info here
  • Need info here
  • Need info here
Consulting & Education
  • Need info here
  • Need info here
  • Need info here

Equipment

Our equipment is designed to facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations.

CT

Computed Tomography (CT) uses electronically generated x-rays to create three-dimensional images of an object’s internal structures.

▸ Bruker SkyScan 1276
  • The Bruker SkyScan 1276 microCT system, located at UHN’s Krembil Discovery Tower and operated by STTARR, supports whole-body anatomical imaging of mice and rats in vivo, as well as high resolution studies of small excised samples (e.g. mouse femur, tibia) and non-biological samples
  • The SkyScan 1276 microCT has a maximum scan field of view that is 80 mm wide and more than 300 mm long. The highest nominal spatial resolution achievable is 2.8 µm pixel size for bone and tissue samples and approximately 10 µm for in vivo mouse studies
  • Physiological monitoring for time-resolved CT imaging (e.g. cardiac and respiratory gating) is available
▸ Mediso CT (As part of the SPECT-CT_PET trimodal system)
  • Mediso nanoScan SPECT-CT-PET is a triple modality system which also supports whole-body anatomical imaging of mice and rats at STTARR. CT scans can be easily co-registered to corresponding SPECT or PET scans
  • A 10 µm isotropic voxel size is the highest resolution possible for small (< 2 cm) field-of-view CT scans
▸ Clinical CT – 2020, Coming Soon

MRI

A MRI scan uses the magnetization from water protons to generate images in which brightness can reflect not only the density of water protons in tissue but also the interaction of water protons with their local microenvironment.

▸ 7 Tesla MRI (Biospec, Bruker)
  • By utilizing a range of RF and gradient coil inserts, it can accomodate animal models ranging in scale from ex vivo tissue samples and rodents, through to 5-7 kg animals
  • The machine capabilities are model-dependent, but can range from MR microscopy tasks (i.e. 60-micron isotropic voxels, using optimized RF coils and prolonged scanning sessions) through to standard techniques at high resolution for the relevant anatomy (i.e. 100x100x500-micron voxels in time-efficient murine brain scans; 500x500x1500-micron voxels in primates)
  • The machine has multi-nuclear capabilities for imaging and spectroscopy, using dual-tuned 19F/1H and31P/1H transmit/receive surface coils
  • The STTARR-MRI can also accomodate multi-modal MR/CT/PET imaging in rodents utilizing the Minerve Small Animal Environment System
▸ 1 Tesla MRI (M3, Aspect Imaging)
  • It is well suited for multi-modal applications, and we have experience with 3D registration of the MR data sets to PET (Siemens Focus 220) and BLI (Xenogen Ivis) data sets using the Lumiquant bed system
  • The M3 is currently used at STTARR for T1 and T2-weighted anatomical imaging, as well as dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) imaging of tissue perfusion and permeability
  • The system is equipped with two RF body coils and a RF head coil for murine imaging applications, plus a specialized RF coil which is compatible with the Lumiquant bed
▸ 1.5 Tesla MRI (Aera, Siemens)
  • Siemens’ 1.5T Aera is a leading-edge system for clinical imaging
  • The platform for development of MR-guided therapeutics, including MR-guided focused ultrasound, and with its 70 cm bore diameter, it allows for imaging in a broad range of animal models
  • A selection of RF coils and techniques are provided which are enabling for preclinical imaging applications

Nuclear Imaging

The nuclear imaging modalities of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) rely on injection (or sometimes ingestion or inhalation) of a radioactive tracer. Nuclear imaging provides unique insight into the metabolic function of organ systems, tumours as well as disease extent.

▸ PET - Positron Emission Tomogrophy
  • PET is a nuclear medicine imaging modality that detects the emissions of radiolabelled tracers
  • As positron-emitting isotopes decay, positrons interact with electrons in the subject causing an annihilation event to occur in which the mass of these subatomic particles is converted into energy (E = mc2) in the form of two 511 keV gamma rays emitted at 180° apart from each other
  • The gamma ray pairs are subsequently detected by the PET scanner
  • PET scanners contain a 360° detector ring that allows localization of the initial decay event and therefore the location of the administered tracer
▸ SPECT - Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography
  • SPECT is a radionuclide imaging technique based on the detection of gamma rays emitted by radioisotopes
  • The scanner consists of four gamma camera heads (scintillating sodium iodide crystals doped with thallium) with pinhole collimators that rotate around the subject
  • A SPECT scan acquires multiple 2-D images (projections) from multiple angles and a computer algorithm applies a tomographic reconstruction to these generating a 3-D image
  • Isotopes useful for SPECT imaging emit gamma rays with energies between ~25 – 250 keV. They are high atomic number metals commonly used to label molecules of biological significance
▸ MicroPET – Siemens Focus 220
  • The Siemens Focus 220 has a 7.8 cm transaxial field-of-view, a 1.3 mm spatial resolution and a 22 cm bore diameter, which supports imaging of small animals ranging from mice to rabbits, as well as brain imaging of some larger animal models
▸ PET/MRI – Mediso NanoScan
  • The Mediso NanoScan PET/MRI supports whole-body anatomic and dynamic mouse and rat imaging at STTARR, including cardiac and respiratory gated PET and MRI
  • PET specifications: Need to include
  • MR specifications: Need to include
▸ NanoSPECT/CT
  • The SPECT scanner is Bioscan’s nanoSPECT/CT, a dual–modality scanner with multi-pinhole SPECT detectors

Optical

Fluorescence and Bioluminesence imaging techniques.

▸ Xenogen IVIS Imaging System 100
  • Xenogen bioluminescence imaging provides the ability to detect luciferase expressing cells with a fairly high degree of sensitivity, making it useful in particular for lower numbers of cells, for which fluorescence imaging may not be sensitive enough to separate signal from background autofluorescence
  • The quantitative or semi-quantitative nature of bioluminescence imaging also allows you to track the number of cells (or degree of luciferase expression) over time, with multiple injections of luciferin, lending itself well to applications such as monitoring of tumor burden over time
▸ CRI Maestro System
  • The CRI Maestro system is best used with known fluorophores, or transgenic cells expressing a fluorescent protein, growing subcutaneously within mice
▸ FCM 1000
  • a fiber-optic confocal fluorescence microscope adapted to in vivo and in situ animal imaging

Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan is obtained by applying sound to the body and measuring the echoes from different tissue structures. It is used to perform anatomic imaging and can detect blood flow in large vessels using a technique called Doppler ultrasound. Additionally, microbubble contrast agents can be used to detect blood flow in small vessels, such as the capillaries.

▸ Vevo 2100 System
  • operates at frequency (20 to 40MHz) an order of magnitude above what is typically used in the clinic (1 to 5 MHz), which improves the resolution which is crucial for imaging small structures of a mouse

PhotoAcoustics

The photoacoustic (PA) effect refers to the generation of acoustic waves from an object being illuminated by pulsed or modulated electromagnetic (EM) radiation, including optical waves. The fundamental principle of the PA effect is based on the thermal expansion resulting from the absorption of EM radiation. The thermal expansion increases the acoustic pressure in the medium. Pulsing or modulating the EM radiation generates an acoustic wave which can be detected using an ultrasound transducer.

▸ Vevo LAZR
  • uses a 20Hz tunable laser (680 – 970nm) to image functional hemodynamic and molecular data with a resolution down to 40 µm and a depth of 1 cm

Small Animal Irradiator

The X-Rad225 provides mid-range energy for high and low dose rate irradiation studies. A wide range of collimators is available for high precision targeting.

▸ Precision X-Ray X-RAD 225Cx
  • The Precision X-Ray X-RAD 225Cx irradiator enables irradiation of cells and small animals (ranging from mice to rabbits)
  • The X-RAD’s cone-beam CT allows for precision image-guided irradiations
  • MR images can be imported and substituted to CT images, for precision image-guided irradiations

Software and Analysis Workstations

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Questions?

STTARR, along with all other UHN Core facilities, can be accessed by any researcher, regardless of organization, through our Customer Management site (Stratocore PPMS) here. Create a free account to communicate directly with the facility and generate quotations for your work.

Please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your research needs with a member of our expert team. Meeting and discussing your research and goals is the best way for us to ensure the right technology and/or equipment is applied to your project.

Pricing for various equipment is dependent on whether you are an internal or external user. It would be best to contact us directly to receive more information about this. Please contact us for more details.

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