The University of Virginia (UVa) Schools of Medicine and Engineering have established successful research programs in the development and application of imaging methodologies for non-invasive serial studies of the molecular mechanisms underlying ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung inflammation, and drug addiction in small animals and humans. Imaging is carried out by the UVa Molecular Imaging Center (UVaMIC) that houses state of the art imaging devices including magnetic resonance (MR), X-ray computed tomography (CT), fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging (BLI), single gamma emission tomography (SPECT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. Radiotracer imaging (PET and SPECT) provides a good balance between sensitivity and spatial resolution and is best for imaging small amounts of targeted imaging agents. However, an extensive infrastructure is necessary for the production of custom targeted PET and SPECT imaging agents. We have established such an infrastructure with the appropriate chemists and radiochemistry lab space. However, there are no cyclotrons nearby, so we are relegated to receiving a small number of sufficiently long-lived PET isotopes from afar. This greatly increases the cost, decreases the efficiency of syntheses, and entirely precludes us from using some of the shorter lived isotopes (e.g., [11C]Carbon with a 20 minute half-life, or [15O]Oxygen with a 2 minute half-life) that are necessary for a variety of studies. We are requesting funds for radioisotope production equipment that will provide the missing link in our current setup for the synthesis of targeted imaging agents. We propose to purchase the IBA 18/9 cyclotron and accessories. Full utilization of the enhanced capabilities afforded by the cyclotron will be assured through an existing comprehensive technical, scientific, and administrative plan. ?
The relevance to public health of the addition of a cyclotron to the already extensive imaging resources available at UVa is that the presence of a cyclotron will enable research that is now not possible on new ways of detecting, characterizing, and treating diseases utilizing PET and SPECT scanning. ? ? ? ?