Pulling back the curtain

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  Preclinical imaging research helps to provide some early insight for the medical community on what new treatments and therapies could soon be available to help human patients globally, who suffer from a multitude of illnesses that currently do not have remedies. For instance, this month showed a large leap forward for nanoparticles, which received FDA approval for trails of human cancer imaging.

After eight years of refinement and imaging in rats, the nanoparticle C dots were approved by the FDA and will be administered to humans for the first time at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Nanotechnology Center in New York City. The researchers suggest that the nanoparticle C dots render glowing PET images of melanoma.

Also, through the study of rodent models, Japanese researchers determined that PET technology is a powerful tool for in vivo analysis of the gastrointestinal absorption of orally administered drugs.

Currently, in preclinical animal studies, in vivo gastrointestinal absorption of drugs is typically assessed by pharmacokinetic analysis of the time course of drug concentration in the blood. However, Yamashita et al suggest that if the in vivo process of gastrointestinal drug absorption is unclear, it will be difficult to understand why changes in the physiologic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract cause absorption to fluctuate.

After assessing conscious and anesthetized rats, they found that PET is highly capable of visualizing and kinetically analyzing the gastrointestinal absorption of drugs in vivo.

Preclinical research also is getting a boost from the U.S. government. First, a new Senate bill seeking to reintroduce domestic medical isotope production has been introduced, which will have a direct impact on the use of molybdenum-99 in preclinical studies, as well as the hospital setting. However, unlike previous bills, it does not call for the building of a new nuclear reactor on U.S. soil. Yet, the investment from the federal government is still present, as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awarded $9.56 million to a University of Louisville Health Sciences Center research scientist to form a multicenter network examining cardioprotective therapies at the preclinical level.

On these topics, or any others in this fast-moving field, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet