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Envisioning the future of neuroscience

Today, SNM's Molecular Imaging Center of Excellence kicked off a two-day symposium bringing together individuals from multiple scientific disciplinesincluding chemistry, engineering, physics, molecular biology, neurosciences and imaging sciencesto promote the emerging field of molecular neuroimaging.

"Molecular Imaging Symposium: Envisioning the Future of Neuroscience," which is taking place May 6-7 at the Natcher Auditorium of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., has attracted physicians and researchers from the basic science, translational and clinical communities, including a number of scientists-in-training. The meeting focuses on advances in targeted multimodality imaging of the central nervous system (CNS), including imaging of the bloodbrain barrier, tumors, neuroreceptors, stem cells, adoptive immunotherapies and other biological processes relevant to the CNS.

This morning, the meeting kicked off with a keynote speech by William Pardridge, M.D., from the University of California, Los Angeles. Partridge discussed the design and engineering of molecular "Trojan horses" as a way to smuggle biopharmaceuticals past the blood-brain barrier.

The keynote speech was followed by the first of four sessions for the day, each of which began with a lecture and concluded with a panel discussion and question and answer session. The first session provided an overview and introduction to molecular neuroimaging, going into detail about the molecular imaging techniques now in clinical use, including PET, SPECT, preclinical and intraoperative imaging.

"One of the main objectives of the meeting is to show the scientific and clinical communities the great potential behind targeted multimodality molecular neuroimaging," said Michelle S. Bradbury, Ph.D., M.D., of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York, and co-chair of the program committee. "By wedding state-of-the-art imaging technologies with novel molecular and particle probes designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, there is unprecedented capability to study brain metabolism, function and pathophysiology, as well as to apply this new knowledge to improving medicine and patient outcomes.

The second session investigated nanoparticles and their potential for diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain and central nervous system. The second keynote speech of the day, "Imaging the Addicted Brain," given by Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH, Bethesda, Md., discussed the role of molecular imaging in the cutting edge research now underway to elucidate the biology of addiction.

During the sessions that took place in the afternoon, the focus shifted to more selected topics, such as those addressing the evolving areas of blood-brain barrier delivery and cellular therapies for treating brain tumors. For example, the third session covered successes and challenges in crossing the blood-brain barrier to deliver imaging and therapeutic agents. The final session of the day explored stem cell therapeutics and adoptive immunotherapies for brain tumors.

"It is increasingly important to find and implement new ways of studying the brain," said MICoE President Henry F. VanBrocklin, Ph.D., professor of radiology and director of radiopharmaceutical research in the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the symposium's program committee. "Molecular imaging can improve our understanding and management of critical central nervous system pathophysiological processes, such as neurodegeneration, brain tumors and psychiatric diseases."

This evening, a banquet and abstracts award presentation will recognize research by some of the outstanding new researchers in the field. Michael Phelps, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, will speak at the dinner and focus on translating metabolic assays into molecular imaging diagnostics.

The agenda for tomorrow, the second day of the meeting, includes sessions that provide new information on imaging brain tumors, imaging biomarkers for the diagnosis of dementia and a final session on psychiatric and neurobehavorial research. Attendees will gain an understanding of how research in molecular neuroimaging can be applied to patient care.


Contact: Amy Shaw
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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