Currently, positron emission tomography (PET) relies on fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a labeled version of glucose, to do the functional visualization of body’s metabolism. A team of scientists from UCLA, the California Institute of Technology, Stanford, Siemens and Fluidigm, have developed a novel technology based on integrated microfluidic chips that is promising to simplify and diversify the types of molecules used in PET scanning. According to UCLA press release, the PET scan of the future might become even more important among imaging modalities:
Researchers demonstrated a new technology of a programmable chip that can dramatically accelerate the development of many new molecular imaging molecules for PET. As a proof of principle, this group of academic and commercial scientists demonstrated that FDG could be synthesized on a “stamp-size” chip. These chips have a design similar to integrated electronic circuits, except they are made up of fluid channels, chambers, and values, or switches, that can carry out many chemical operations to synthesize and label molecules for PET imaging. All the operations of the chip are controlled and executed by a PC.
FDG was produced on the chip and used to image glucose metabolism in a mouse with a specially designed PET scanner for mice produced by Siemens, called a microPET. The Science paper illustrates that this technology also can produce the amount of FDG required for human studies.
More importantly, the paper illustrates a new base technology for producing and delivering a diverse array of molecular imaging molecules and labeled drugs for use with PET to examine the biology of many diseases for molecular diagnostics and to guide the development of new molecular therapeutics, or drugs.
“Chemists synthesize molecules in a lab by mixing chemicals in beakers and repeating experiments many times, but one day soon they’ll sit at a PC and carry out chemical synthesis with the digital control, speed and flexibility of today’s world of electronics using a tiny integrated microfluidic chip,” said Hsian-Rong Tseng, assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
There is a vast distribution of manufacturing sites throughout the world producing PET molecular imaging molecules for hospitals, universities and pharmaceutical companies. The goal is to integrate these new chips into a small control device operated by a PC that will be commercially produced, then to ship chips to users so they can produce whatever molecules they choose for molecular imaging with PET. These chips will be an enabling technology to fuel growth in the number and diversity of imaging molecules and applications of PET in biology and pharmaceutical research and in the care of patients.
The press release…