Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a relatively rare cancer, but it is still the most prevalent leukemia in adults and there is, unfortunately, still no cure for this disease. But recent research published in the official journal of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS), Clinical Immunology, offers some newfound hope in better understanding the progression and/or regression of CLL.

This study aimed to establish a non-invasive approach to better visualize and quantify the presence of CLL disease within the spleen in a pre-clinical setting using a xenograft mouse model. Thanks to ultra-small superparamagnetic iron oxide-magnetic resonance imaging (USPIO-MRI) the researchers were able to monitor and evaluate chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell engraftment and response to treatment in the mouse xenogeneic transplantation model over a period of time. Furthermore, in-vivo tracking of a cancer’s progression in a living specimen also reduces the total number of mice (or rats) needed for any given study, because there is a diminished need to sacrifice the rodents throughout experimental protocols.

At Hera, we understand that imaging of cancer xenografts, especially metastasis models and disseminated tumor models, is becoming an important tool for pre-clinical research. Our distinctive piggyBac technology allows us to efficiently create stable cell lines expressing luciferase for bioluminescence imaging or thymidine kinase (TK) for PET imaging. And we are currently developing leukemia xenograft models using our immunodeficient rat lines (Rag2 KO and our Rag2/II2rg double KO rat) which can be used in the same way as comparable SCID mouse models, but also provide advantages, including increased size, that have the potential to make a significant impact on oncology research utilizing in-vivo imaging.

As in-vivo imaging techniques, such as MRI, continue to progress, it is our hope that researchers will not only be better able to predict and understand the progression of CLL, but they will also be able to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of preclinical treatment therapies with the hopes of finding a cure for leukemia and other cancers. At Hera, we are committed to working with our research partners to provide superior xenograft rat models to help make this a reality.