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Working together toward imaging innovation

BioPhotonics
Feb 2010
Laura S. Marshall, laura.marshall@laurin.com

MILWAUKEE – Being able to image dying or dead cells could be extremely useful to clinicians in terms of therapy assessment, diagnosis and more. Cancer specialists could check on a tumor’s response to treatment, for example, or cardiologists could determine quickly whether a patient actually has had a heart attack.

And a collaboration between GE Healthcare and the Medical College of Wisconsin could help bring that kind of imaging ability to patient care settings.

Dr. Ming Zhao, assistant professor of biophysics at the school, has invented a molecular imaging technology that uses imaging probes with a radiopharmaceutical compound; under a recent licensing agreement, GE Healthcare will test and further develop the technology and will have the option of commercializing it.


GE Healthcare and the Medical College of Wisconsin are collaborating on new imaging probes that bind to dying or dead cells and could enable quick diagnosis of cell death in the brain, heart and other organs.

The new probes bind to dying or dead cells, enabling detection of such cells by nuclear medicine imaging techniques including single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET). To accomplish this, the active component of the molecule is attached to a radioactive tracer; the probes show up under PET or SPECT imaging and provide three-dimensional images of the tissue where the death is taking place. The technology is aimed at diagnosing cell death in the brain, heart and other organs.

“Working with the market leader in medical imaging allows this technology to be quickly moved from the research laboratory into patient care,” said Dennis B. Devitt, director of marketing and licensing for the Office of Technology Development (OTD), the technology transfer arm of the Medical College. The research was supported by a proof-of-concept grant administered by the OTD; the school already has filed several patent applications on the technology.

Zhao said the license ultimately would help advance imaging and diagnosis.

“Imaging agent discovery and development is an important aspect in molecular and medical imaging research,” he said. “The process is critical for the improvement of existing imaging technologies and for early detection of acute cell death, cancerous tissue growth and major vessel diseases.”


GLOSSARY
radioactive tracer
A radioactive element that is placed or injected into a system to obtain an autoradiogram of the system. It is used in a number of fields where standard methods of internal imaging, for example, radiography, fail to produce a clear image.
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