One of our population's main health threats is cancer (25.7% of deaths in Switzerland in 2012). Four out of ten people in Switzerland will contract cancer during their lifetime, with increasing incidence, leading to personal distress and a substantial and rapidly increasing proportion of the healthcare spending. And we still have no sufficient cures.
Today, we know that for cancer diagnosis and treatment, oxygen is one of the most important prognostic biomarkers (i.e. low oxygenation is strongly associated with unfavorable outcomes) and therapeutic targets (i.e. oxygenation highly affects the effectiveness of therapies). So far, the accurate measurement of tumor oxygenation in a non invasive, non toxic, yet repetitively constant manner has not been possible.
The aim of the CRPP Tumor Oxygenation is to provide novel methods of biophotonics, such as 3D near-infrared imaging technologies, BOLD-MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) to image and measure tumor oxygenation and oxygen metabolism in vivo at the animal and human level. Our research focuses on head and neck cancers and might be extended to other important tumor entities at a later stage. The oxygenation of these cancers will be studied before and during surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well as photodynamic therapy and, ultimately, the therapy will be optimized by being able to predict treatment response before and during therapy. By striving for multidisciplinary medical research, we aim for a personalized approach of cancer treatment that limits harmful side-effects as a trade-off to effective treatment. Specifically, the CRPP Tumor Oxygenation will provide the tools to better understand, possibly prevent and more effectively treat cancer, thereby reducing social cost and personal distress and increasing the quality of life of cancer patients.