Benchtop CT imaging at NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s BSL-3 laboratory

15th August 2023

The school's imaging lab has installed a MOLECUBES’ PET-SPECT-CT platform and a second CT imager dedicated for infectious disease research including COVID-19

The Preclinical Imaging Laboratory at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, as part of the Division for Advanced Research Technologies within the Office of Science & Research, enables NYU biomedical scientists to image live animals on an organ, tissue, cell, or molecular level using state-of-the-art preclinical imaging technologies. The lab is equipped with MOLECUBES benchtop preclinical imagers including a γ-CUBE for SPECT, a β-CUBE for PET, and two X-CUBEs for CT, one of which was originally procured specifically for infectious diseases research including COVID-19.

Eighteen preclinical imaging scanners providing seven imaging modalities

Director of the Preclinical Imaging Laboratory and Associate Professor Youssef Wadghiri said, “The school’s preclinical imaging lab is a shared resource offering our researchers here a wide variety of imaging modalities and strategies to screen and examine small animal models of human diseases in all types of rodent organs, including examination similar to what is performed in human clinical settings.

“Our preclinical multi-modal imaging platform is predominantly dedicated for non-invasive rodent imaging, where more than 90% of our studies are performed mice in vivo, as opposed to conventional post-mortem histologic and macroscopic examination which are terminal, preventing longitudinal evaluation and monitoring of the rate of progression of the disease in individual animals. Hence, imaging would be a key added value, not only for guidance for selecting small animal subjects to be thoroughly examined post-mortem, but also to complement more traditional techniques.

“We are equipped with eighteen preclinical imagers to serve the needs of our NYU researchers across our multiple disciplines and research programs. These scanners span over seven imaging modalities including optical, bioluminescence, fluorescence, MRI, ultrasound, CT, PET, and SPECT. Our imaging instrument are complemented with a comprehensive set of analytical tools to ensure best practices, quality control, maintenance of instrumentation and equipment, as well as data provenance for scientific rigor and transparency. In addition to service-oriented imaging, we also develop technologies and strategies such as MRI probes, which is my own expertise, to make imaging accessible and affordable for broad use through high-throughput scanning as well as to bridge the gap between modalities and conventional practices."

High-resolution CT images captured by the X-CUBE.

A space-saving solution for biosafety cabinets

As benchtop imagers, the MOLECUBES provides flexible working arrangements in labs where space is at a premium. Each CUBE measures just 54x54cm, allowing them to be positioned in convenient workflows and rearranged as required. Despite the compact sizes, the CUBES still deliver excellent high-performance imaging across all modalities.

Professor Wadghiri said, “Since the establishment of our imaging platform in 2011 as a fee-for-service shared resource core, one of the main challenges we have been continuously faced with is the identification of space across the NYU Grossman medical campus. Located in mid-town Manhattan as part of one of the densest and largest cities in North America where space is scarce, the imaging instruments we choose must have the smallest of footprints. This is the case even more so in our BSL-3 environment where use of space is very limited in combination with the nature of the research on highly contagious and infectious diseases. The design of imaging suites must accommodate both the scanner and fully equipped infrastructure to ensure advanced imaging while easing access to users from diverse research programs.”

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