Navigation Links
PET imaging reveals the immune system at work

For clinicians, the ability to look routinely inside the body and see -- at the level of the cell -- how it confronts disease is a distant dream. But in a series of experiments with genetically engineered mice, a team of researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at the University of California Los Angeles has taken a key step toward realizing that vision by demonstrating the ability to peer inside the body non-invasively and see the immune system at work.

The new research is important because it may one day aid physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of important conditions such as cancer and other diseases.

Writing in the November 15, 2005, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of researchers led by HHMI investigator Owen N. Witte at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center reports the results of experiments that enabled the group to tune in to the cellular battles waged by the immune system deep in the body. Using positron emission tomography or PET, Witte and his colleagues were able to observe key cells of the immune system as they responded to tumors in mice.

"We know we can use PET to visualize cancer," said Witte. "Now we can use it to visualize the immune response to cancer" and other conditions.This ability, he said, promises an unprecedented look at how the immune system attacks -- or sometimes promotes -- disease at the molecular level. It may help scientists and clinicians better evaluate specific immune responses to disease, making diagnosis and treatment more precise and effective.

When confronted with disease, the immune system deploys a complex network of specialized cells to defend the body. A malfunctioning immune system can cause such things as allergies, arthritis, cancer and AIDS as the body turns on itself.

Current technology to assess immune response relies on invasive procedures such as biopsies to gather tissue that can be analyzed to determine how well or how poorly the body is faring against disease. The advantage of using the new PET technique, said Witte, is that surgical procedures are avoided and a PET scan can give clinicians a picture not only of an afflicted part of the anatomy, but of the whole body over time and in a way that portrays the body's response to disease as it happens.

PET is already a widely used technology. In conventional clinical settings it produces images of the body by detecting radiation emitted from radioactive substances, such as fluorodeoxyglucose, injected into the body. In the work reported by Witte's group, PET was used to follow immune cells whose DNA included "reporter genes," genes engineered to help concentrate chemical tracers detectable by PET imaging.

The experiments conducted by Witte's group utilized mice whose immune systems had been suppressed and then replaced using bone marrow from another mouse. The donor marrow included cells with genes engineered to be detectable by PET. By inducing cancer in the mice, Witte and his team were then able to observe specific immune cells at work as they reacted to the tumor.

"The fact that we can visualize the cellular immune response without invading the body is an important advantage," Witte noted. "We can see immune reactions in the body that would otherwise not be easy to see. If you test blood, for example, it may not tell you what's going on in the liver or the spleen. With this technique, the sensitivity for monitoring the immune system is incredible because you're seeing the whole body."

That global perspective makes it possible to see critical ancillary responses in addition to the specific cellular battles of the immune system at the site of a tumor, for example. In their experiments Witte's group was able to see the lymph nodes, which resided at some distance from the tumor, spring into action. Lymph nodes are a critical part of the immune system, helping to recruit key disease-fightin g immune cells.

"This lets us see not only how but where" the body is responding to disease, Witte explained. "The immune system resides throughout the body, and it is not going to be responding the same everywhere."

Moreover, a whole-body perspective, Witte said, may be especially useful as new therapies designed to modulate the immune system in response to disease become available. At present, there are very few tools available to follow the extent and duration of responses to such treatment.

The new approaches devised by Witte and his colleagues, can now be applied to "visualize immune cell expansion and activation (and) can be used for the evaluation and development of immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases," he said.

One intriguing possibility, according to Witte, is that these techniques could be turned to the study of autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly identifies native cells or tissues as foreign and mounts an attack.

The techniques they've developed should now enable scientists -- and one day clinicians -- to observe the ebb and flow of the immune system over the course of an episode of disease or autoimmune response, said Witte.


Source:Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Related biology news :

1. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
2. Duke engineers develop new 3-D cardiac imaging probe
3. Confocal imaging promises early detection of skin cancer
4. Newer imaging techniques may lead to over-treatment
5. Researchers use 3-D imaging system to unveil swimming behavior of microscopic plankton
6. Microscopic brain imaging in the palm of your hand
7. New imaging technology shown to detect pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes
8. Purdues gold nanorods brighten future for medical imaging
9. New technique puts brain-imaging research on its head
10. T-rays: New imaging technology spotlighted by American Chemical Society
11. UCLA imaging study of children with autism finds broken mirror neuron system
Post Your Comments:

(Date:9/30/2015)... Sept. 30, 2015  With nearly 300,000 Americans living ... new SCIs estimated to reach 12,500 annually, the role ... Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL) is increasingly ... California opening doors to independence for ... and services, notably assistive technology services and education. ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Sept. 29, 2015 ... technology improves employee productivity while also saving energy ... features such as Low Power Active Mode and embedded ... workplace transformation Fujitsu today shows that ... of new and refreshed models to its enterprise desktop ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... Sept. 28, 2015  The monitoring of vital ... body temperature, is an essential component of patient ... of deterioration in a patient,s condition. However, in ... are typically taken during routine observation rounds only ... patient deteriorates between these observation rounds, the warning ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
... VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland indicates that there is ... sold in Finland as regards fuel consumption in normal driving. ... using six used cars of different make under laboratory conditions. ... fuel consumption is significantly higher with 95E10 petrol than with ...
... A group of scientists at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Cincia, ... skeleton and organ size. The team, led by Florence Janody, ... the proteins that regulates the skeleton of the cell also ... and proliferation. Their findings have implications for cancer research, as ...
... organ in the human body that metabolizes foreign compounds such ... liver as an alarm system, researchers are starting to better ... their effects on the human body. One ... the Virginia Tech Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science,s ...
Cached Biology News:
(Date:10/8/2015)... .   ... Goldman Small Cap Research, a stock market research ... sectors, announced today that it has published a ... (OTCQB - PMCB), a publicly traded, clinical stage ... for cancer and diabetes. To view the sponsored ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... Del. , Oct. 8, 2015  Today, ... CRISPR-Cas technologies for genome editing, jointly announced a ... and Caribou have cross-licensed their respective patent portfolios, with ... technology applications in major row crops, and non-exclusive ... --> --> ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... -- Today the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at ... Opsonix Inc. The announcement follows a worldwide ... Development (OTD) and Opsonix Inc. enabling the company ... --> --> ... year in the U.S. — more than prostate cancer, ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... ... 2015 , ... ProMIS Neurosciences, Inc. (TSX: PMN), announced today ... intellectual property rights belonging to The University of British Columbia (UBC). This agreement ... rights to intellectual property based on use of the ProMIS™ technology, modifications and ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
... Gretel ventured into the forest, they left a trail ... world, cellular phones, Global Positioning System (GPS), WiFi, and ... friends, family, and colleagues while helping us find our ... ubiquity of such devices, with few exceptions, today,s firefighters ...
... Kendle (Nasdaq: KNDL ), a leading, ... of its senior clinical development experts will present ... Association (DIA) 47th Annual Meeting, June 19-23, 2011, ... including the benefits of hybrid monitoring; finding an ...
... New Generation of the Ziehm Vision RFD Offers,Lower-Cost ... has launched a new generation of the Ziehm Vision,RFD mobile ... it to be used over an almost unlimited period,of time, ... to its mobility and significantly lower investment costs,the Ziehm Vision ...
Cached Biology Technology:
MAb to Catenin beta, N-terminal (exon 2) Catenin, beta, N-terminal (exon 2)...
... 'The DNAscope V is a ... microarray scanning and image processing that deliver ... V is a high quality microarray scanner ... imaging technology for optimal background rejection and ...
... to Synaptogyrin 2 ( Abpromise ... Antigen: ... Internal sequence amino acids 42-57 ... Entrez Gene ID: ...
Biology Products: