A number of articles explore the use of positron emission tomography (PET) and small animal imaging—nonsurgical techniques that open the door to understanding and treating human diseases—in the April issue of the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
A major benefit of small animal imaging "is the ability to carry out many studies at various time points with the same animal," said SNM member Michael J. Welch, Ph.D., co-author of "Preparation, Biodistribution and Small Animal PET of 45Ti-Transferrin." Welch, a co-director of the division of radiological sciences at Washington University’s renowned Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and head of the institute’s radiochemistry laboratory, explained that studies on the same living animal can be extended over a period of time, allowing researchers to follow the development of disease in one subject and to monitor the effects of interventions on disease progression and outcome. Crucial information can be obtained noninvasively, repeatedly and quantitatively in the same animal, he said. With small animal imaging, one can very rapidly evaluate new radiopharmaceuticals using a limited number of animals and possibly eliminate the need for biopsies, extending an animal’s life.
PET provides a noninvasive view into a person’s living biology as it tracks a range of biological processes from metabolism to receptors, gene expression and drug activity. This imaging tool examines the chemistry and biology of a person’s body by monitoring ingested tracer molecules, and it is used to study the metabolism of the brain, the heart and cancer. A miniature version of PET was developed and is used in much the same way to image small animals.
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