SNM Small Animal Image of the Year shows diabetic pancreas

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Small Animal Image of the Year
The image of pancreatic beta cells in rats received the Small Animal Image of the Year award at SNM 2007. Photo courtesy of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

A novel molecular imaging agent for imaging beta cell loss in the diabetic pancreas was announced last week as the Small Animal Image of the Year at SNM 2007 in Washington, D.C. last week. The image was acquired during a preclinical study presented by Dr. Mei-Ping Kung of the University of Pennsylvania using Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. compound AV-133 (18F-FP-DTBZ). The award shows a positron emission tomography (PET) image of a rat pancreas following injection with AV-133.  This compound was discovered by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan and is now under investigation at Avid.

This study showed that AV-133, a molecular imaging agent targeting the vesicular monoamine transporter-2 (VMAT2), is potentially useful for measuring beta cell mass and for studying the pathogenesis of diabetes. 
Declines in the number of beta cells in the pancreas are evident prior to the onset of diabetes and may be a useful early marker for increased risk of developing Type I or Type II diabetes. The amount of VMAT2, which is expressed by the beta cells of the pancreas, may reflect beta cell mass. Molecular imaging of beta cells using a VMAT2-targeted compound has the potential to detect losses in beta cells before a diagnosis of diabetes is possible by current methods. This may make it possible to identify individuals who are at elevated risk of developing diabetes to receive earlier treatment, and allow for monitoring of new treatments designed to preserve beta cells.
Proactive disease control can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes; however, many people are not aware that they are at risk of diabetes until they develop one of its complications.