Summary: New PET imaging probes will show real-time brain activity that occurs during disease progression in autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Source: Emory University
Emory researchers are about to see in real time how brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders affect a patient’s brain function. This window to the brain will in turn allow them to develop more effective drugs to treat the more than 10 million people in the United States living with these still baffling conditions.
Two grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Mental Health will fund the development of new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging probes for Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders designed to show real-time brain activity that occurs during disease progression.
The awards will provide a total of $9.6 million over five years to support multidisciplinary teams collaborating through the new Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Center and Radiopharmaceutical Discovery Program, both located in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Collaborating departments include pharmacology and chemical biology, neurology and psychiatry.
“We are truly honored to receive this federal support to advance our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders using next-level PET imaging technologies,” said lead researcher Steven Liang, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. .
“By collaborating with Emory’s excellent faculty members in translational brain research, we can more effectively and rapidly advance clinical research and drug discovery to help the millions of people living with AD. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Aimed to provide target-specific information in living subjects that reveals disease stage and progression, the Imaging Probes Project is a multidisciplinary collaboration with co-investigators Stephen F. Traynelis, PhD, Professor, and Hongjie Yuan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, both in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at Emory School of Medicine, and Allan Levey, MD, PhD, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Neurology, Endowed Chair the Goizueta Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Director of the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Within the autism-related project, cross-center and cross-departmental collaboration includes Larry Young, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience at the Emory National Primate Research Center.
From Promise to Deep Impact
“This work has the potential to be a game-changer,” says Elizabeth Krupinski, PhD, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences.
“Dr. Liang’s projects involve drug discovery, radiochemistry and translational PET imaging studies in multiple species, from rodents to non-human primates to humans. We are very pleased to support this fruitful collaboration, result of our Team Science approach, and to stimulate cross-departmental interactions to translate fundamental scientific discoveries into humans.
Vikas Sukhatme, MD, ScD, Dean of the Emory School of Medicine, agrees, “These projects are excellent examples of Emory’s expertise in translational research from bench to bedside, research with substantial potential for improving patient care. Work will take place in our new Health Sciences Research Building (HSRB)-II, supported by our Systems Imaging Center, proving what world-class research facilities can do to improve our understanding and treatment complex conditions.
Emory: A National Innovation Leader in Advanced Imaging
Emory is a natural home for this work, says Amit Saindane, MD, MBA, professor and chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. “Emory Radiology has an outstanding track record in the development of advanced imaging technologies, radiopharmaceutical discovery and translational research.”
This dossier includes pioneering imaging therapies for prostate cancer, the discovery of imaging agents to detect recurrent prostate cancer, and leading clinical trials for the radiotracer in guiding the making of clinical decision for patients with recurrent prostate cancer.
Saindane sees this next wave of discovery as equally promising. “The new PET imaging tools developed by Dr. Liang and his research team show great potential to further our understanding of these devastating neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases. We hope to advance these innovative imaging technologies so that they can then be used in research to test new neurotherapies for treatment.
About this neuroimaging research news
Author: Brian Katzowitz
Source: Emory University
Contact: Brian Katzowitz – Emory University
Image: Image is in public domain