Australian, British researchers collaborate for PET project
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) and the Brindle Laboratory at Cambridge University in England have signed a three-year agreement to develop imaging methods for early detection of tumor responses to therapy, using PET-based radiopharmaceuticals.

Suzanne Smith, MD, project leader of the Lucas Heights, Australia-based ANSTO, said that the collaboration also takes the scientific community one step closer toward personalizing medicine.

“We are living in a world where we now understand that genetics can have a significant effect on biological processes,” Smith said. “Through this knowledge we also know that people respond differently to treatment. The research will develop non-invasive methods of monitoring treatments which will undoubtedly improve their rationalization and contribute towards the goal of personalizing medicine.”

The research is focused on merging and capitalizing the strengths of PET and MRI technologies, both of which are already used to diagnose and monitor disease, based on the individual.   

The Cambridge collaboration will do this by applying a new platform technology developed by ANSTO. Currently patented in Australia, the United States and Europe, the SarAr technology utilizes an isotope called copper 64 (Cu64). SarAr is a ligand, or cage, which holds the copper securely to a target molecule while traveling through the body as it emits radioactive signals to a PET camera, which ensures that a clear image of the target agent or drug is obtained.

The SarAr platform technology allows scientists to put Cu64 on a range of drugs, such as proteins, peptides, oligonucleotides, as well as nanoparticles.

The project is split into two focal points: the SarAr technology will be used to radiolabel the C2A protein and the resulting agent will be evaluated as a Cu64 PET imaging agent for detecting tumor cell death; and second, SarAr will be used to radiolabel nanoparticles and be evaluated as a potential combined PET/MRI imaging agent.

The project is part of the ARC Center of Excellence for Anti Matter Matter Science program and funding of $600,000 was provided through an International Science Linkages grant.