Doctoral candidate Maria Theresa Lee has the difficult job of producing the probes which are so fragile they have to be encased in a tiny capillary of glass. "You can hardly see the fibers," remarked Lee. "It's very difficult when you're making it. You have to be careful breathing or else it just flies away."
Lee hopes her probes will lead to the development of even better imaging agents, because the probes will show radiologists what happens chemically to the imaging agent as it travels through the bloodstream. Scientists in the department of radiology in UC's College of Medicine are researching that part of the problem.
"Nobody knows exactly what happens to the compound in the body," said Lee. "It's a very harsh and complex environment, and no one knows what happens to it."
Lee presented her results from in vitro testing during the recent Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry. She is now testing her probes on live animals in collaboration with radiology professor Anthony McGoron who presented their work at the Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Denver, Colorado in June. So far, the probes appear to be working well despite concerns over their stability.
"You have the heart beating and bumping, and you know how fragile the carbon fiber is. We tried it, and we didn't have any problems with it."
Professor Heineman believes the probes could eventually be used to study other medically important compounds such as brain imaging agents and kidney imaging agents, but he realizes a lot of research remains to be done.
"We've just demonstrated that we have the capability to do this, so it's opened up a frontier. We've opened the door, but we haven't taken too many steps yet."
In fact, all of the preliminary research has been done using
rhenium complexes instead of technetium to avoid the difficulties
of working with radioactive materials. Rhenium is chemically
Contact: Chris Curran
University of Cincinnati