Molecular Imaging and Theranostics Group

Research Overview

Our group focuses on providing better diagnostic imaging, side-effect free targeted drug delivery and theranostic (concurrent therapy and diagnostic) approaches for a range of cardiovascular diseases. The team’s research involves:

1.         Biotechnology for genetic design and engineering of recombinant proteins, as well as antibody-drug fusion therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases.
2.         Biomaterials selection, design, functionalisation and generation of innovative nano-/micro-particles.
3.         Novel conjugations of antibody-particles using biological and/or chemical coupling.
4.         Molecular imaging of cardiovascular diseases using ultrasound, MRI, PET, MicroCT, fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging.

Work in the laboratory is particularly attractive for students and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in the development of advanced biotechnological tools for molecular imaging and novel therapeutics (e.g. nanoparticles). The translational direction of the laboratory and the inclusion of patients in studies is highly attractive for physician-scientists.

Main Research Focus
Molecular imaging
Clinical imaging technologies mainly provide an anatomical readout of the structural changes for diagnosis, usually after irreversible damage has occurred. Our research aims to advance a range of innovative preclinical imaging modalities for more sensitive and functional readouts. The technologies employed include ultrasound, MRI, PET, MicroCT, fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging. Novel molecular imaging incorporates a range of techniques (biology, biotechnology, chemistry and physics) to achieve a more sensitive diagnosis and enable early detection of cardiovascular diseases.

Targeted drug delivery
Clot-busting drugs have frequently been associated with side effects of bleeding complications, thereby limiting their wider clinical use. This research focuses on the development of recombinant antibody-drug fusion constructs for targeted drug delivery. This approach directs therapy to the desired site of action, allowing for lower concentrations of effective systemic drugs to be used, thus eliminating the risk of side effects. Therefore, our research for targeted drug delivery approach has the potential to create a paradigm shift for side-effect free prophylactic and therapeutic use across a variety of CVDs.

Innovative theranostic strategy involves concurrent diagnosis and therapy. The use of targeted nano-/micro-particles gives us the flexibility to increase the therapeutic payload of drugs, including gene therapy. In our research projects, we design and develop biocompatible particles with improved contrast properties and enhanced loading of therapeutic agents.


Dr Laura Bienvenu, Research Fellow
Ms Viktoria Bongcaron, Research Assistant


Professor Elliot Chaikof (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School; Boston, USA)
Professor Ulrich Flögel (Department of Molecular Cardiology, Heinrich Heine University; Düsseldorf, Germany)
Associate Professor Hang Ta (AIBN, University of Queensland)
Dr Nghia Truong (Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University)
Dr Carmine Gentile (Cardiovascular Regeneration, University of Technology Sydney)
Dr Kate Fox and Dr Toh Yen Peng (Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University)


National Heart Foundation

Research Outcomes

Wang X*,^, Temme S*, Grapentin C, Palasubramaniam J, Walsh A, Kramer W, Kleimann P, Havlas A, Schubert R, Schrader J, Flögel U, Peter K^. 19-Fluorine Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Activated Platelets. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020; 9: e016971. *Equally contributing first author, ^Equally contributing corresponding author.

Walker J, Wang X, Peter K, Kempe K, Corrie S. Dynamic solid-state ultrasound contrast agent for monitoring pH fluctuations in vivo. ACS Sensor 2020; 5: 1190-1197.

Hanjaya-Putra D*, Haller C*, Wang X*, Dai E, Lim B, Liu L, Jaminet P, Yao Y, Searle AK, Bonnard T, Hagemeyer C, Peter K, Chaikof EL. Platelet-targeted dual pathway antithrombotic inhibits thrombosis with preserved hemostasis. Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights. 2018; 3:e99329. *Equally contributing first author

Wang X,*,^ Searle AK*, Hohmann JD, Liu AL, Abraham M-K, Palasubramaniam J, Lim B, Yao Y, Wallert M, Yu E, Chen Y-C, Peter K^. Dual-targeted theranostic delivery of miRs arrests abdominal aortic aneurysm development. Molecular Therapy. 2018;26:1056–1065. I*Equally contributing first author, ^Corresponding author.

Yap ML*, McFadyen JD*, Wang X*, Zia NA, Hohmann JD, Ziegler M, Yao Y, Pham A, Harris M, Donnelly PS, Hogarth PM, Pietersz GA, Lim B, Peter K. Targeting activated platelets: A unique and potentially universal approach for cancer imaging. Theranostics. 2017;7:2565–2574.

Research Publications

Ziegler M*, Hohmann JD*, Searle AK, Abraham M-K, Nandurkar HH, Wang X^, Peter K^. A single-chain antibody-CD39 fusion protein targeting activated platelets protects from cardiac ischaemia/reperfusion injury. European Heart Journal. 2018;39:111–116. *Equally contributing first author, ^Equally contributing last author. With editorial letter

Wang X*,^, Gkanatsas Y*, Palasubramaniam J, Hohmann JD, Chen YC, Lim B, Hagemeyer CE, Peter K^. Thrombus-targeted theranostic microbubbles: A new technology towards concurrent rapid ultrasound diagnosis and bleeding-free fibrinolytic treatment of thrombosis. Theranostics. 2016;6:726–738.

Wang X, Palasubramaniam J, Gkanatsas Y, Hohmann JD, Westein E, Kanojia R, Alt K, Huang D, Jia F, Ahrens I, Medcalf RL, Peter K, Hagemeyer CE. Towards effective and safe thrombolysis and thromboprophylaxis: preclinical testing of a novel antibody-targeted recombinant plasminogen activator directed against activated platelets. Circulation Research. 2014;114:1083–1093.

Wang X, Hagemeyer CE, Hohmann JD, Leitner E, Armstrong PC, Jia F, Olschewski M, Needles A, Peter K, Ahrens I. Novel single-chain antibody-targeted microbubbles for molecular ultrasound imaging of thrombosis: validation of a unique noninvasive method for rapid and sensitive detection of thrombi and monitoring of success or failure of thrombolysis in mice. Circulation. 2012;125:3117–3126.

Research Projects

School Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Head of Laboratory Dr Xiaowei Wang

Department / Centre

Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health

Unit / Centre

Molecular Imaging and Theranostics Group Molecular Metabolism and Ageing Group

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