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1.  Molecular imaging probe development: a chemistry perspective 
Molecular imaging is an attractive modality that has been widely employed in many aspects of biomedical research; especially those aimed at the early detection of diseases such as cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders. The field emerged in response to a new research paradigm in healthcare that seeks to integrate detection capabilities for the prediction and prevention of diseases. This approach made a distinct impact in biomedical research as it enabled researchers to leverage the capabilities of molecular imaging probes to visualize a targeted molecular event non-invasively, repeatedly and continuously in a living system. In addition, since such probes are inherently compact, robust, and amenable to high-throughput production, these probes could potentially facilitate screening of preclinical drug discovery, therapeutic assessment and validation of disease biomarkers. They could also be useful in drug discovery and safety evaluations. In this review, major trends in the chemical synthesis and development of positron emission tomography (PET), optical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) probes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3430472  PMID: 22943038
Positron emission tomography; radiochemistry; MRI; optical probes; molecular imaging
2.  Molecular imaging probe development: a chemistry perspective 
Molecular imaging is an attractive modality that has been widely employed in many aspects of biomedical research; especially those aimed at the early detection of diseases such as cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders. The field emerged in response to a new research paradigm in healthcare that seeks to integrate detection capabilities for the prediction and prevention of diseases. This approach made a distinct impact in biomedical research as it enabled researchers to leverage the capabilities of molecular imaging probes to visualize a targeted molecular event non-invasively, repeatedly and continuously in a living system. In addition, since such probes are inherently compact, robust, and amenable to high-throughput production, these probes could potentially facilitate screening of preclinical drug discovery, therapeutic assessment and validation of disease biomarkers. They could also be useful in drug discovery and safety evaluations. In this review, major trends in the chemical synthesis and development of positron emission tomography (PET), optical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) probes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3430472  PMID: 22943038
Positron emission tomography; radiochemistry; MRI; optical probes; molecular imaging
3.  Convergent synthesis and evaluation of 18F-labeled azulenic COX2 probes for cancer imaging 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;2:207.
The overall objectives of this research are to (i) develop azulene-based positron emission tomography (PET) probes and (ii) image COX2 as a potential biomarker of breast cancer. Several lines of research have demonstrated that COX2 is overexpressed in breast cancer and that its presence correlates with poor prognoses. While other studies have reported that COX2 inhibition can be modulated and used beneficially as a chemopreventive strategy in cancer, no viable mechanism for achieving that approach has yet been developed. This shortfall could be circumvented through in vivo imaging of COX2 activity, particularly using sensitive imaging techniques such as PET. Toward that goal, our laboratory focuses on the development of novel 18F-labled COX2 probes. We began the synthesis of the probes by transforming tropolone into a lactone, which was subjected to an [8 + 2] cycloaddition reaction to yield 2-methylazulene as the core ring of the probe. After exploring numerous synthetic routes, the final target molecule and precursor PET compounds were prepared successfully using convergent synthesis. Conventional 18F labeling methods caused precursor decomposition, which prompted us to hypothesize that the acidic protons of the methylene moiety between the azulene and thiazole rings were readily abstracted by a strong base such as potassium carbonate. Ultimately, this caused the precursors to disintegrate. This observation was supported after successfully using an 18F labeling strategy that employed a much milder phosphate buffer. The 18F-labeled COX2 probe was tested in a breast cancer xenograft mouse model. The data obtained via successive whole-body PET/CT scans indicated probe accumulation and retention in the tumor. Overall, the probe was stable in vivo and no defluorination was observed. A biodistribution study and Western blot analysis corroborate with the imaging data. In conclusion, this novel COX2 PET probe was shown to be a promising agent for cancer imaging and deserves further investigation.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2012.00207
PMCID: PMC3539664  PMID: 23316477
azulene; COX2; breast cancer; PET; CT; convergence synthesis; molecular imaging
4.  NEAR-INFRARED DYES: Probe Development and Applications in Optical Molecular Imaging 
Current organic synthesis  2011;8(4):521-534.
The recent emergence of optical imaging has brought forth a unique challenge for chemists: development of new biocompatible dyes that fluoresce in the near-infrared (NIR) region for optimal use in biomedical applications. This review describes the synthesis of NIR dyes and the design of probes capable of noninvasively imaging molecular events in small animal models.
doi:10.2174/157017911796117223
PMCID: PMC3150548  PMID: 21822405
Cyanine; fluorescence; FRET; imaging; optical; probe; rhodamine
5.  Imaging biomarkers to predict response to anti-HER2 (ErbB2) therapy in preclinical models of breast cancer 
Purpose
To evaluate non-invasive imaging methods as predictive biomarkers of response to trastuzumab in mouse models of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. The correlation between tumor regression and molecular imaging of apoptosis, glucose metabolism, and cellular proliferation was evaluated longitudinally in responding and non-responding tumor-bearing cohorts.
Experimental Design
Mammary tumors from MMTV/HER2 transgenic female mice were transplanted into syngeneic female mice. BT474 human breast carcinoma cell line xenografts were grown in athymic nude mice. Tumor cell apoptosis (NIR700-Annexin-V accumulation), glucose metabolism ([18F]FDG-PET), and proliferation ([18F]FLT-PET) were evaluated throughout a bi-weekly trastuzumab regimen. Imaging metrics were validated by direct measurement of tumor size and immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis of cleaved caspase-3, phosphorylated AKT (p-AKT) and Ki67.
Results
NIR700-Annexin-V accumulated significantly in trastuzumab-treated MMTV/HER2 and BT474 tumors that ultimately regressed, but not in non-responding or vehicle-treated tumors. Uptake of [18F]FDG was not affected by trastuzumab treatment in MMTV/HER2 or BT474 tumors. [18F]FLT PET imaging predicted trastuzumab response in BT474 tumors but not in MMTV/HER2 tumors, which exhibited modest uptake of [18F]FLT. Close agreement was observed between imaging metrics and IHC analysis.
Conclusions
Molecular imaging of apoptosis accurately predicts trastuzumab-induced regression of HER2(+) tumors and may warrant clinical exploration to predict early response to neoadjuvant trastuzumab. Trastuzumab does not appear to alter glucose metabolism substantially enough to afford [18F]FDG-PET significant predictive value in this setting. Although promising in one preclinical model, further studies are required to determine the overall value of [18F]FLT-PET as a biomarker of response to trastuzumab in HER2+ breast cancer.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2635
PMCID: PMC2819132  PMID: 19584166
Annexin-V; [18F]FDG-PET; [18F]FLT-PET; trastuzumab; HER2; breast cancer; treatment response; apoptosis; imaging

Results 1-5 (5)