Attaching alpha-emitting radionuclides to cancer-targeting agents increases the anti-tumor effects of targeted cancer therapies. The success of alpha therapy for treating bone metastases has increased interest in using targeted alpha therapy (TAT) to treat a broad spectrum of metastatic cancers. Estimating radiation doses to targeted tumors, including small (<250 μm) clusters of cancer cells, and to non-targeted tissues is critical in the pre-clinical development of TATs. However, accurate quantification of heterogeneous distributions of alpha-emitters in small metastases is not possible with existing pre-clinical in-vivo imaging systems. Ex-vivo digital autoradiography using a scintillator in combination with an image intensifier and a charged coupled device (CCD) has gained interest for pre-clinical ex-vivo alpha particle imaging. We present a simulation-based analysis of the fundamental spatial resolution limits of digital autoradiography systems. Spatial resolution was quantified in terms of the modulation transfer function (MTF) and Wagner's equivalent aperture. We modeled systems operating in either particle-counting (PC) or energy-integrating (EI) mode using a cascaded systems approach that accounts for: 1) the stopping power of alpha particles; 2) the distance alpha particles travel within the scintillator; 3) optical blur, and; 4) binning in detector elements. We applied our analysis to imaging of astatine-211 using an LYSO scintillator with thickness ranging from 10 μm to 20 μm. Our analysis demonstrates that when these systems are operated in particle-counting mode with a centroid-calculation algorithm, the effective apertures of ~35 μm can be achieved, which suggests that digital autoradiography may enable quantifying the uptake of alpha emitters in tumors consisting of a few cancer cells. Future work will investigate the image noise and energy-resolution properties of digital autoradiography systems.
Jesse Tanguay, Francois Benard, Anna Celler, Thomas Ruth, and Paul Schaffer, "Spatial resolution properties of digital autoradiography systems for pre-clinical alpha particle imaging (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10137, Medical Imaging 2017: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging, 1013716 (Presented at SPIE Medical Imaging: February 14, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252282.5361903968001.
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