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Nov 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 19)

Animal Imaging Transforms Development

Widespread Use of Noninvasive Technology in Models Has Accelerated Drug Research

  • Clinical Translation

    Click Image To Enlarge +
    This mouse image from the GE eXplore specCZT CT120 shows a whole-body, dynamic SPECT image overlaid on a CT scan. (Dr. P. Choquet and Pr. A. Constantinesco, Hopital de Hautepierre)

    GE Healthcare has a strong stake in molecular imaging, but Jean-Luc Vanderheyden, Ph.D., global molecular imaging leader, technology and medical office, noted that molecular imaging means different things to different people. “We got our start in molecular imaging as applied to drug development, but imaging is a rapidly expanding and inclusive field.”

    At the congress, the company presented a full range of solid-state imaging technologies—the ability to see the entire animal—“which may well become the standard for small-animal study,” said Dr. Vanderheyden.

    GE’s eXplore speCZT is a full-ring solid-state detector small-animal SPECT that focuses on high throughput and rapid dynamic imaging. It uses a cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) detector, allowing for full 360º coverage around the animal and high-energy resolution to enable dual or triple radio-nuclide imaging. The increased sensitivity of speCZT helps medical researchers perform dynamic small-animal SPECT imaging to precisely quantify radio-tracer uptake and identify morphological changes, Dr. Vanderheyden said.

    “The technology from this small-animal SPECT was used to help create advances in nuclear cardiology patients,” he added. “Imaging has been part of preclinical studies for decades, but the movement toward noninvasive imagery is quite new. The convergence of technologies, provide researchers the materials and knowledge they need to do their jobs.”

  • Near Infrared

    LI-COR Biosciences’ Pearl Imaging System is optimized for use with LI-COR IRDye® Infrared Dyes for NIR imaging at 700 and 800 nm, according to Jeff Harford, senior product manager.  “There is a great interest in real-time imaging, and the new Pearl® Impulse collects images at a fast frame rate, and the sensitivity allows tumors to be detected in the animals before they are even palpable.” The New Pearl Imager Impulse will be ready to ship in early 2010, Harford noted.

    Working in near infrared has unique advantages. “Working in visible wavelengths interferes with fluorescence detection due to high background signal from surrounding tissue, and white light (in contrast to the Pearls’ laser excitation) does not penetrate tissue very effectively,” Harford added. “Near infrared is the window through which a broad spectrum of in vivo applications are possible.”

    “Many people have been working with green fluorescent proteins, visible reporters that are transfected into cells. They are difficult to see because of the auto fluorescence of tissue. But now, there is a new fluorescent protein for near-infrared imaging that offers some tremendous opportunities for small-animal work.”

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