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European Network for Cell Imaging and Tracking Expertise (ENCITE)
Start date: Jun 1, 2008, End date: Nov 30, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Cell therapy can be defined as the transplantation of living cells for the treatment of medical disorders. Three different principles underlie the increasing interest in cell therapy. 1. Transplanted cells used as an “active drug” 2. Transplanted cells used to replace damaged and degenerated tissue. 3. Cells used as a drug delivery vehicle. Promising results have been obtained in pre-clinical and clinical studies, however, success rates have been variable and clinical benefits have been limited. A major issue is the fact that the mechanisms by which cell therapy works in the different disease areas, are still poorly understood. The ability to non-invasively monitor the fate and modes of action of transplanted cells over time is mandatory. The development of relevant imaging tools will lead to a better understanding of how cell therapy works, the possibility of response monitoring in patients, and sufficient safety of the treatment.. ENCITE will provide tools to allow this by developing; • New imaging methods to improve the spatio-temporal tracking of labelled cells • Dual- and multimodality imaging procedures to cross-validate each individual approach • New contrast agents and procedures that will improve the sensitivity and specificity of cellular labelling • Combining of molecular biology for the generation of molecular and cellular imaging reporters with multimodal imaging techniques • Novel cell and animal reporter systems detecting the location and function of individual cells and small cell subsets within the target organ • Cellular labelling that does not interfere with cellular functions and therapeutic efficacy • Methods for quantitative assessment to generate reliable biomarkers of the cell fate and therapeutic effects • Cell homing for therapeutic delivery to target organs The tools and methodologies developed will be validated in 5 key disease areas; Neurological, Cardiovascular, Musculoskeletal, Diabetes and Cancer."
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