Quick the Probe, Sharp the Molecular Image

October 22, 2014
Quick the Probe, Sharp the Molecular Image
The predicted secondary structure of peptide p5+14. The peptide is alpha helical with all the charged lysine residues on one face of the helix. [University of Tennessee]

Summer E. Allen, Ph.D.

Researchers are developing a host of new uses for molecular imaging techniques—including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)—that are already commonly used in patient care. Once these techniques have picked up new capabilities in the laboratory, they will return to the clinic, where they will likely transform the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

“The approval rate for new therapeutic entities in oncology is the lowest of all disease areas. Ninety percent of new chemical entities that go into clinical testing for cancer fail—despite the fact that they are all backed with tons of animal data suggesting that they should work,” says Andrew Kung, M.D., Ph.D., director of pediatric hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation, New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Kung has been at the forefront of a movement to improve preclinical animal studies—primarily by using more representative animal models of cancer and by measuring treatment response using molecular imaging and other techniques that might also be used to measure desired responses in patients.

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