WMIC: Nobel Prize laureate Tsien looking at future, not past

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Nobel Prize Laureate Roger Tsien

During a press briefing preceding his keynote speech at the World Molecular Imaging Conference (WMIC) in Montreal this week, 2008 Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry Roger Y. Tsien, PhD, said that in an effort to be “translational,” his speech would focus more on the future than on his past.

“I’m going to talk not so much about the past work that led to the Nobel Prize,” said Tsien, who is a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego,” but rather some new work that relates to enzymatically amplifying mechanisms that I think is rather novel and not just the usual ligand binding to macromolecules statically-type of contrast mechanism.”

This new enzymatically amplified targeting can deliver both optical and MR contrast agents, “do a little bit of cardiovascular imaging, and, we think, possibly even deliver therapeutic agents,” Tsien said. “So my main emphasis will be looking to the future, rather than dwelling on the past.”

Tsien speculated that his trip to Stockholm last December is one of the reasons why he was keynoting the congress.

“And in a way I suppose that is good for the whole field,” he said. He noted that, “Imaging as a whole has been moderately well represented in Stockholm over the years,” all the way back to the Wilhelm Röntgen’s Nobel Prize in 1901 for the discovery of x-rays.

“So the 2008 prize in chemistry for the green fluorescent protein . . . may represent the first time that the molecular side of imaging has had some representation,” Tsien said.

William Eckelman, PhD, of Molecular Tracer, and program committee chair on the probe emphasis section, said that the programming for this year’s congress is unique in that each section session is not organized by the imaging modality, but organized by the target, so that attendees will “see specific targets as the titles of the sessions, but then imaging modalities such as nuclear, MR, optical, ultrasound all addressing the issue of delivering those probes to a particular target.

“I think that is unique to this meeting,” said Eckelman, “and I think there will be a very interesting cross fertilization of information along the various types of investigations.”