Now and future molecular imaging

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The pace of research in functional imaging moves at a fast clip, with breakthroughs at the laboratory bench promising new treatments in the clinical setting. Getting from point A to point B, however, is rarely a seamless transition.

Take the biomarker 11C-choline, for example. The compound has successfully been applied for PET imaging of prostate cancer, bladder cancer and other solid malignancies. Although the radiotracer has shown strength for cancer detection, its observed sensitivity has shown great variance.

According to a research team from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, preliminary data indicate that increased 11C-choline uptake in PET/CT of primary prostate cancer normalized by non-malignant prostate tissue may serve as a marker of tumor aggressiveness. However, the protocol and technologies to achieve this outcome are so sophisticated that they may hinder their adoption for clinical applications.

But, according to the researchers, the study isn’t simply an exercise in the combination of advanced imaging technologies—a new modality on the not-so-distant horizon, PET/MRI, could provide the anatomic imaging muscle to deliver the necessary sensitivity for clinical use of 11C choline.

On the other hand, sometimes advances can easily and seamlessly be integrated into everyday clinical practice. A single, 20-second breath hold during a PET/CT for lung cancer can significantly improve the maximum standardized uptake value especially in the lower lung field and for small tumors, which may be affected by respiratory motion.

According to the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine investigators who crafted the breath-hold PET technique, the protocol is feasible in the clinical setting and requires only a minor increase in exam time.

In other news, if you want to find out more about the possibilities for molecular imaging in your practice head over to our Healthcare TechGuide and check out the variety of systems offered there.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the utilization of molecular imaging and nuclear medicine in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Editor