by Scott Haller, MS
Director of the Translational Imaging Center
Incorporating molecular imaging into development efforts will allow investigators to visualize, characterize, and quantify biological, physiological, and chemical processes at the molecular and cellular levels in vivo. Molecular imaging platforms such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) detect emission products of radioisotopes with differing structural and physical properties. The specific properties of such radioisotopes and resultant decay products provide countless applications in which molecular imaging platforms, paired with advanced radiochemistry, can be used in drug development programs. This underscores the importance and differentiation brought to this center through the availability of a cyclotron, which is capable of producing both short- and long-lived radioisotopes. This significantly expands the portfolio of available radioisotopes to allow for the development of a radiopharmaceutical or imaging agent which maintains the original pharmacology of a new entity being developed or provides indirect elucidation of target indication, respectively.
The cyclotron provides many options for drug development teams in all phases of development. Cyclotron availability allows for advanced, short-lived, labeled drug candidates, and probes of drug function. The center also provides sophisticated informatics to optimize the interpretation of data generated through the use of these technologies, significantly enhancing the power of molecular imaging in driving key decisions along the development path.
Drug development teams traditionally have not had access to a commercially available cyclotron immediately contiguous with vivarium facilities housing species ranging from mice to nonhuman primates. With the development of the Translational Imaging Center at MPI Research, drug developers now have access to multiple imaging platforms (PET, SPECT, and X-ray Computed Tomography [CT]).
The Translational Imaging Center will provide a resource and potentially new methodologies to elucidate the physiological properties of a drug candidate’s mechanism of action much earlier in development, and will give drug developers enhanced ability to make well-informed, go/no-go decisions sooner.