GE Healthcare has licensed a new molecular imaging technology aimed at diagnosis of cell death in organs such as the brain and heart from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Under the license, GE will evaluate and develop the technology and will have an option to commercialize it. The technology, using imaging probes with a radiopharmaceutical compound, was invented by Ming Zhao, PhD, assistant professor of biophysics.
According to the college, the probes bind to dead and dying cells making them useful for detecting acute cell injury and cell death. When the active component of this molecule is attached to a radioactive tracer, it can be used in nuclear medicine imaging techniques, such as PET or SPECT, to produce 3D images of where this cell death is occurring.
The ability to image dead and dying cells could have major clinical benefits, noted Zhao. For example, it could allow oncologists to rapidly monitor tumor response to a specific therapy. Another potential application is for quicker diagnosis of heart attack. Often patients are admitted to the ER with chest pain and need to spend a night at a hospital so they can be monitored while their lab results are being processed. This compound could allow clinicians to non-invasively image the heart and determine within a few hours if the patient actually had a heart attack or something else, according to Zhao.