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The Need for Speed: Accelerating Bioluminescence Imaging Research

Scientist on April 13, 2023

This installment of Tech Snapshot® highlights Invicro’s bioluminescence platform, which is focused on providing sponsors with image datasets faster, for more rapid decision making. Invicro is an industry-leading global imaging CRO supporting the discovery and development of life-changing drugs.

The Importance of Bioluminescence Imaging in Preclinical Research

In preclinical drug development, gaining insights into biological processes without the need for invasive procedures that could alter the natural state of a model organism is critical. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is a rapid, highly sensitive non-invasive imaging technique that empowers researchers to visualize and track processes in living organisms in real time. BLI utilizes naturally occurring bioluminescent molecules, such as luciferase, to monitor biological activity at the molecular level.

For over a decade, luciferase reporters in tumor cell lines have enabled the imaging of deep tissue mouse tumor models, and BLI has become the preferred method for quantifying tumor growth and drug pharmacodynamics in orthotopic, hematologic and metastasis models of cancer. Additionally, BLI’s ability to sensitively detect gene transduction has fueled both gene therapy and vaccine development by providing critical in vivo insights into expression and biodistribution of genetic material.

Shining a Light on Deep Tissue Tumor Models

Traditionally, tracking the growth and spread of tumors in deep tissue models has been challenging, as lifespan readouts are required, and in some cases, they can decouple from tumor burden. BLI, on the other hand, offers a non-invasive way to visualize the growth and spread of tumors in real-time. With this ability, drug developers can gain knowledge into the efficacy of candidates in vivo by monitoring changes in tumor growth and spread following treatment.

Working with a CRO that has extensive animal model expertise in deep tissue tumor models is essential for BLI research, as it ensures that protocols are optimized for the specific animal model being used, data is accurately interpreted and studies are conducted in compliance with regulatory requirements. Invicro has substantial expertise in most major orthotopic, hematologic and metastasis model formats – for orthotopic models, we have extensive experience in brain, pancreas, colorectal, prostate, liver, kidney and lung cancer models.

Though brain cancer surgery models present many challenges in terms of consistency and model performance, Invicro is highly skilled with stereotactic intracranial surgery for brain glioma and brain metastatic models. Learn more about our brain cancer surgery model expertise in our webinar, “Multi-purpose in vivo Imaging in Intracranial Tumor Models to Support Clinical Translation in Neuro-Oncology.

Informing Better Decisions in Gene Therapy & Vaccine Development

High-resolution assessment of gene transduction in the whole body over time is necessary for the development of gene therapies and certain types of vaccines. However, assessing the efficacy and dynamics of gene transduction can be challenging, and traditional methods such as fluorescent microscopy or RT-qPCR are invasive and may not provide the necessary resolution or sensitivity to accurately monitor gene expression. BLI offers a powerful, non-invasive solution to overcome these hurdles, allowing for highly sensitive assessment of gene expression over time for PK/PD insights into gene therapy candidates.

Invicro has expertise in the use of gene delivery platforms, particularly mRNA-containing lipid nanoparticles, adeno-associated virus vectors (AAV) and other viral vectors (BSL2+) and delivery agents. Our experience spans routes of administrations including intramuscular, intravenous, subcutaneous, PO, intracerebroventricular (ICV), intracisternal magna and intravitreal.

Accelerating BLI Research Insights with Industry-Leading Expertise

Invicro strives to turn around large, complex BLI datasets faster than the accepted norms, as fast decision making is key for drug development and gaining ‘real time’ answers. Equipped with the IVIS® Spectrum in vivo imaging system, Invicro offers accelerated BLI insights through our high-throughput workflows, automated image analysis and reporting, streamlining of deep tissue tumor models, and use of MRI to validate BLI tumor burden readout.

High throughput workflows are critically important in bioluminescence research, as they allow researchers to rapidly and efficiently generate large amounts of data from a larger group of animal models. Invicro employs staggered scanning workflows for maximal study sizes so our partners gain more insights from their study, sooner.

Bioluminescence imaging also generates a significant amount of data, which can be time-consuming to analyze. To overcome this hurdle, Invicro, with one of the largest image analysis teams in the industry, has developed automated segmentation and region of interest quantification using optimized analysis pipelines – we strive for a 24-hour turnaround time on BLI image data. Our ability to customize analysis and visualizations goes beyond on-board scanner software and can include bioluminescence movies and robust image displays and visualizations that go beyond the conventional static 2D images.

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