Navigation Links
Tracing biological pathways
Date:11/4/2011

A new chemical process developed by a team of Harvard researchers greatly increases the utility of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in creating real-time 3-D images of chemical process occurring inside the human body.

This new work by Tobias Ritter, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and colleagues holds out the tantalizing possibility of using PET scans to peer into any number of functions inside the bodies of living patients by simplifying the process of creating "tracer" molecules used to create the 3-D images.

For example, imagine a pharmaceutical company developing new treatments by studying the way "micro-doses" of drugs behave in the bodies of living humans. Imagine researchers using non-invasive tests to study the efficacy of drugs aimed at combatting disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, and identify the physiological differences in the brains of patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

As described in the Nov. 4 issue of Science, the process is a never-before-achieved way of chemically transforming fluoride into an intermediate reagent, which can then be used to bind a fluorine isotope to organic molecules, creating the PET tracers. Often used in combination with CT scans, PET imaging works by detecting radiation emitted by tracer atoms, which can be incorporated into compounds used in the body or attached to other molecules.

"It's extremely exciting," Ritter said, of the breakthrough. "A lot of people said we would never achieve this, but this allows us to now make tracers that would have been very challenging using conventional chemistry."

The new process builds on Ritter's earlier fluorination work, which reduced the risk of damage to the original molecules by reducing the amount of energy needed to create fluorinated compounds, and involved the development of a unique, "late-stage" process that allowed fluorination to take place at the end of a compound's synthesis, eliminating concerns about the extremely short, two-hour half-life of the fluorine isotope used as a tracer.

Ritter's process begins with fluoride, which is chemically altered to create an intermediate molecule, called an "electrophilic fluorination reagent." Armed with that reagent, and using the late-stage fluorination process developed in Ritter's lab, his team is then able to create fluorinated molecules for use in PET imaging.

The breakthrough opens the door to pharmaceutical companies using the relatively simple, non-invasive scans to track how "micro-doses" of drugs behave in living subjects, with the potential payoff coming in vastly more efficient and cheaper drug development.

"One of the most immediate applications of this is in using molecular imaging to give us an understanding of the bio-distribution of a drug," Ritter said. "If a pharmaceutical company is developing a drug to treat schizophrenia, they could use this test to see if it enters the brain. If early tests show it doesn't, they would be able to kill the project before spending a great deal of time and money on it."

The technique could even be used to unlock the physical traits of disorders that until now have been limited to phenomenological descriptions. Using biomarkers related to specific disorders, researchers could use fluorination to identify biological differences between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and use that information to develop treatments for both.

"I don't know if we're ever going to reach that point," Ritter said. "But that's what this project may be able to deliver in the long term. The way my group works we want to solve big problems, and we're willing to sacrifice to get there. This is one problem that is worth a little bit of sweat."


'/>"/>

Contact: Peter Reuell
preuell@fas.harvard.edu
617-496-8070

Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. BGI and Collaborators Announce New Clues Found in Tracing the Origin of the Deadly E. coli Strain and Appeal for the Sharing of Additional Data
2. Tracing microbes between individuals towards personalized oral health care
3. Tracing natural hazards by taking Earths pulse
4. 3-D long-term bone marrow culture to analyze stromal cell biological function
5. $10 million grant supports biological sciences team at University of Nevada, Reno
6. Potential new drugs plug brains biological vacuum cleaner and target HIV
7. Market transactions and economics in general affect biological invasions
8. Alarm clock gene explains wake-up function of biological clock
9. Possible biological control discovered for pathogen devastating amphibians
10. Biological communities studied at historical WWII shipwrecks along North Carolina
11. Regenerative powers in the animal kingdom explored in special issue of the Biological Bulletin
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016  Based on ... Frost & Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging ... & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation. IRIS, ... North America , is poised ... rapidly growing diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS technology ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... 2016  Today, the first day of American Heart ... develop a first of its kind workplace health solution ... In the first application of Watson ... ), and Welltok will create a new offering that ... analytics, delivered on Welltok,s health optimization platform. The effort ...
(Date:1/28/2016)... SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: ... financial results for its second quarter ended December 31, 2015. ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 2 percent compared to ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 ... Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016 Beike Biotechnology, the Shenzhen ... a ceremony in late 2015 to mark their successful ... 2016. --> --> ... Personalized Cell Therapy" was hosted by the Shenzhen Cell ... subsidiaries of Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd. ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: ... the fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today provided ... Uniden in the Northern District of Texas ... forward.  Inter Partes Re-examination ("IPR") ... Patent Office.  The IPR was initiated on only certain ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... , Feb. 3, 2016   ViaCyte, ... with the first pluripotent stem cell-derived islet replacement ... in clinical-stage development, today announced that ViaCyte and ... Companies of Johnson & Johnson, have agreed to ... into ViaCyte.  The agreement provides ViaCyte with an ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016 New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) ... million for researchers in New Jersey ... that demonstrates exciting potential.   James ... the New Jersey Health Foundation Research Grant Program ... educational institutions— Princeton University, Rutgers University, Rowan University ...
Breaking Biology Technology: