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Reap - Revealing drug tolerant persister cells in cancer using contrast enhanced optical coherence and photoacoustic tomography

We envision to provide imaging systems useful across multiple scales to reveal drug tolerant persister cells in a preclinical setting. We will develop a triple modal two-photon laser scanning – optical coherence – photoacoustic microscopy for in vitro investigations as well as a dual modal optical coherence photoacoustic tomography for in vivo applications. Parallel developments in contrast agents based on biofunctionalized nanoparticles, new lasers, detector technology and real-time data handling aided by deep learning-based analysis will lead to the detection, characterization, and eventual eradication of persister cells.


Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. The relapsing tumor may remain therapy sensitive and continue to respond to the initial treatment until mechanisms emerge causing stable drug resistance. Residual drug tolerant persister cells cause tumor reoccurrence and therefore are of investigational interest, but are challenging to detect.


The overall objective of REAP is to reveal the drug tolerant persister (DTP) cells in breast cancer both in vitro and in vivo in a mouse model using contrast enhanced multimodal optical imaging.


The development of innovative multimodal imaging platforms will contribute to the detection, characterization, and eventual eradication of therapy resistant breast cancer.

Funding source

EU Horizon 2020

Coordinating organisation

Medical University of Vienna


University of Eastern Finland


Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Austria

Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Picophotonics Oy, Finland

Tampere University, Finland

Politecnico di Torino, Italy

InnoLas Laser GmbH,Germany

LaVision BioTec GmbH, Germany

LioniX International, Netherlands