Scientists have demonstrated a new way to assess the potentially damaging effects of prenatal drug exposure--a technique that could also be used to monitor a fetuss response to therapeutic drugs--using sophisticated, noninvasive medical imaging tools. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energys Brookhaven National Laboratory, whose findings are reported in the February issue of the Society of Nuclear Medicines Journal of Nuclear Medicine, used positron emission tomography (PET) combined with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track the uptake and distribution of trace amounts of cocaine in pregnant monkeys and found significant differences in where and how fast the drug accumulates in maternal and fetal organs.
"Understanding how drugs are transferred between a mother and her fetus during pregnancy may help us unravel the mechanisms of the drugs damaging effects on unborn children," said SNM member Helene Benveniste, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Brookhavens medical department in Upton, N.Y., and lead author of the paper, "Maternal and Fetal 11C-Cocaine Uptake and Kinetics Measured In Vivo by Combined PET and MRI in Pregnant Nonhuman Primates."
"While studies that follow human drug abusers and their children over decades provide valuable information, animal studies can more quickly provide clues to the underlying mechanisms of damage and suggest ways to test new treatment or prevention strategies," said Benveniste.
Maryann Verrillo | EurekAlert!
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