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New PET Radiotracer Aids Early, Noninvasive Detection of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 16 Nov 2023

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract affecting roughly seven million individuals globally. Accurate detection and monitoring of chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract are essential for enhancing patient outcomes. Current methods for diagnosing and monitoring IBD involve assessing clinical symptoms like bloody diarrhea, physical examinations, endoscopy, and pathology. However, these standard diagnostic tools, whether used individually or collectively, do not fully satisfy the requirements for a safe, accessible, and reliable method that quantitatively visualizes gastrointestinal inflammation with precise spatial and molecular detail. Now, a breakthrough has been achieved with the development of a new PET radiotracer, enabling the creation of a detailed inflammation map of the entire gastrointestinal tract, which is instrumental in accurately detecting and staging IBD.

Researchers at Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI, USA) have developed a PET imaging tool that targets the IBD biomarker IL12/23p40, offering a less invasive method for disease detection and treatment guidance. The team created an immuno-PET imaging agent by combining an antibody that targets IL12/23p40 with the radioactive isotope 89Zr. To test its efficacy, they induced a mouse model of ulcerative colitis and then utilized IL12/23p40 PET to image the condition. Following this, they carried out biodistribution studies and additional analyses. The results were promising: IL12/23p40 PET was able to detect acute inflammation in the mouse model of ulcerative colitis. A biodistribution study further reinforced these findings, showing increased uptake of the tracer in the gastrointestinal tissues of the mice, in line with the PET imaging results.

Image: A novel PET radiotracer facilitates early, noninvasive detection of IBD (Photo courtesy of Karmanos)
Image: A novel PET radiotracer facilitates early, noninvasive detection of IBD (Photo courtesy of Karmanos)

“We know that the biomarker IL12/23p40 is a specific driver of inflammation in IBD,” said Nerissa T. Viola, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. “Thus, developing an imaging agent that targets IL12/23p40 is likely to be particularly useful clinically to detect disease progression among the most at-risk patients.”

“Overall, our approach establishes a foundational framework for future efforts to develop non-invasive imaging tools that meet or exceed the specificity and robustness of more conventional clinical diagnostics,” she concluded.

Related Links:
Karmanos Cancer Institute 

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