Fangyu Peng, M.D., Ph.D.

Fangyu Peng
Fangyu Peng, M.D., Ph.D.

Fangyu Peng, M.D., Ph.D., is developing techniques to explore copper metabolism in the body non-invasively with positron emission tomography (PET). PET is a nuclear imaging technique that involves injecting a radioactive isotope into a subject and imaging the distribution and biological fate of that isotope in the body using a scanner. Copper is an essential element in the body, a fundamentally important element for the function of many enzymes.

Dr. Peng is exploring use of the 64copper radioisotope as a PET tracer to assess noninvasively copper metabolism imbalance in patients with Wilson’s disease and to monitor the therapeutic effects of copper-lowering medications in those patients. Wilson’s disease is an inherited copper metabolism disorder caused by mutation of the ATP7B  gene. The mutation leads to toxic levels of copper accumulation in tissues, producing symptoms including liver disease, cognitive deficits, and tremors.

In addition to his work with Wilson's disease, Dr. Peng is also exploring copper's role in cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and neuroinflammatory diseases. Copper is required for cell proliferation, and disorders in copper metabolism play an important role in those diseases.

Dr. Peng and his colleagues have used the 64copper isotope to measure uptake of copper in liver and prostate cancers, finding increased uptake in those cancers. One objective of his work is to determine whether copper metabolism can be a useful imaging biomarker for cancers, as well as the basis for possible new treatments. 

For publication information please view Dr. Peng's faculty profile.