Radiolabeled amino acids can be used in conjunction with PET to image tumors or other areas of rapidly proliferating cells.
- Labeled amino acids can reliably and readily be produced.
- Uses non-natural amino acids which are readily transported into cells but not incorporated into new proteins.
- Increased half-life of the radiolabel allows for off-site production.
Rapidly proliferating cells, such as cancerous tumor cells, require high levels of amino acids to divide and grow. This requirement can be exploited to identify tumors through the use of radiolabeled amino acids. When radiolabeled amino acids are made available, they are more readily taken up by the rapidly dividing cells of a tumor than neighboring cells. These radiolabeled tumor cells can then be visualized using PET imaging technology. Currently, the use of radiolabeled amino acids for imaging is limited by the types of amino acids available, their expense, their short half-lives, and the dilution of their signal through rapid division. This technology includes novel radiolabeled amino acids that address the shortcomings of those currently available. Composed of non-natural amino acids, these compounds allow for ready transportation into progenitor tumor cells, but not incorporation into new proteins. Additionally, the current technology uses radiolabeled fluorine to increase the half-life of the label allowing for offsite production and decreased costs. When combined with current PET imaging technology, these radiolabeled amino acids offer improved and less expensive options for the identification and imaging of tumors.
These amino acids and their use as imaging agents have been patented. They are currently being used in preclinical research.