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PET scanning probes reveal different cell function within the immune system
Date:5/18/2010

multiple sclerosis, Witte said. They also could be used to see how therapies, such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies meant to stimulate an immune response, are functioning within the body of a patient.

"This could give us another way to measure the efficacy of certain drugs," Witte said. "With some drugs, you could measure a change in the immune response within a week."

If the drugs are working, Witte said, doctors could stay the course. If they're not working or not working well enough, the therapy could be discontinued, sparing the patient a months-long exposure to an ineffective drug.

The next step will be testing the two probes in humans with a range of diseases, including cancer and auto-immune disorders, to confirm the work.

Witte and his colleagues licensed the FAC probe to Sofie Biosciences, which is owned in part by Witte and other UCLA faculty members. Researchers created the small molecule by slightly altering the molecular structure of one of the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs, gemcitabine. They then added a radiolabel so the cells that take in the probe can be seen during PET scanning.

The probe measures the activity of a fundamental cell biochemical pathway called the DNA salvage pathway, which acts as a recycling mechanism that helps with DNA replication and repair. All cells use this biochemical pathway to different degrees. But in lymphocytes and macrophages that are proliferating during an immune response, the pathway is activated to very high levels. Because of that, the probe accumulates at high levels in those cells, Witte said.


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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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