First patient PET scan in North Texas performed with cyclotron-produced radiotracer
Update: Video added May 23, 2017.
By Lori Sundeen Soderbergh
The Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center recently delivered its first radiotracer for human injection, launching a new era for nuclear medicine and molecular imaging in North Texas. The radiotracer, carbon–11 acetate, is an investigational new drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of brain tumors in human subjects at UT Southwestern.
“This success marks a major milestone of cancer research in North Texas and demonstrates the promising role of the cutting–edge imaging technology of PET in improving cancer patient care,” said Dr. Xiankai Sun, who leads the Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Program in the Department of Radiology.
The scan was successfully performed by faculty in the clinical PET facility. After injecting a dose of carbon–11 acetate into the bloodstream of a research participant, the scan revealed a strikingly higher contrast in tumor masses than conventional PET scans performed with radiolabeled glucose.
Carbon–11 acetate has previously been used in cardiology to evaluate oxygen consumption and blood flow in the heart, and in oncology to detect several tumor types, including prostate, kidney, bladder, and lung cancers. Earlier studies from UT Southwestern showed that both glucose and acetate could be used as fuel molecules in glioblastoma orthotopic tumors and brain metastases of diverse cellular origins. This suggests the use of acetate for clinical imaging of certain cancers.
“Initiated by a shared – instrumentation award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas [CPRIT] in 2011, UT Southwestern’s Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Program is now poised to play an active role in future cancer research, drug development, and patient care,” said Dr. Sun, an Associate Professor of Radiology and in the Advanced Imaging Research Center.
To date, PET has become a well – recognized molecular imaging tool for cancer diagnosis and prognosis, cancer drug development, and clinical management of people with cancer. The researchers hope to further extend the potential PET imaging applications of this radiotracer in cancer diagnosis and prognosis, facilitating additional insights into cancer metabolism.
“This is a landmark event for UT Southwestern, a tribute to this multidisciplinary and highly collaborative effort,” said Dr. Neil M. Rofsky, Chairman of Radiology. “It initiates a new era of enabling a better understanding of pathophysiology and therapeutic responses through in vivo monitoring with PET and novel tracers and will, in short order, lead to enhanced patient management.”
The production and delivery of the radiotracer was successfully performed by Dr. Guiyang Hao, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Research Radiochemist; Robert Hallgren, Cyclotron Facility Manager; and Nicklas Rydberg, Radiotracer Quality Control Specialist.
The clinical team involved Dr. Orhan K. Öz, Professor of Radiology; Dr. Robert Bachoo, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and of Internal Medicine; Dr. Elizabeth Maher, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics; Dr. Edward Pan, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, of Neurological Surgery, and in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center; Dr. Dana Mathews, Professor of Radiology and of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics; Dr. Bruce Mickey, Professor of Neurological Surgery, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, and of Radiation Oncology; Dr. Christopher Madden, Professor of Neurological Surgery and in the Office of EVP for Health System Affairs; Dr. Toral Patel, Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery and of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics; and Dr. Samuel Barnett, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. The regulatory operations were performed under the guidance of Dr. Marianna Dakanali, Instructor of Radiology and Regulatory Affairs Officer.
Dr. Bachoo holds the Miller Family Professorship in Neuro‐Oncology.
Dr. Maher holds the Theodore H. Strauss Professorship in Neuro‐Oncology.
Dr. Mickey holds the William Kemp Clark Chair of Neurological Surgery.
Dr. Öz holds the Wechun Pak Professorship of Bone Biophysics.
Dr. Rofsky holds the Effie and Wofford Cain Distinguished Chair in Diagnostic Imaging.
Dr. Sun holds the Dr. Jack Krohmer Professorship in Radiation Physics.