From bench to bedside
Earlier this month, researchers from around the world met in Kyoto, Japan for the 2010 World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC) emphasizing “Bench to Bedside Molecular Imaging,” which featured scientific sessions on topics in clinical and translational molecular imaging.

Special sessions highlighted exciting research  nearing the translational stage and combining a variety of imaging modalities.

For example, researchers from Tohoku University, Miyagi, Japan combined nanobubbles and ultrasound as a non-viral gene delivery method in mice, and the gene expression was detected by PET with a CdTe detector (Fine-PET) using iodine-124 as radiotracer. The combination of ultrasound-nanobubble gene transfer and PET imaging may be applied to clinical protocols of gene therapy.

In another presentation at WMIC, PET with 6-18F-fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT)-a tracer for aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) proved valuable in evaluating AADC transgene expression in a phase 1 clinical trial of long-term in vivo gene therapy in Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers from Jichi Medical University, Shimotsuke, Japan used adeno-associated virus vector-mediated gene delivery of human AADC into the putamen of six Parkinson's disease patients. Six months after surgery, the motor functions improved an average of 46 percent based on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale scores. The FMT activity increased at four weeks postoperatively, and the mean increase at six months was 56 percent, which persisted up to 96 weeks.

In other news, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, determined that defects in polyamine pathway play a role in Parkinson's disease pathogenesis. The researchers performed three separate studies--in yeast, mice and humans to validate the findings. The study has immediate clinical implications, as a number of pharmacological agents have already been developed that enhance the function of polyamine metabolism.

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Manjula Puthenedam