Friday, April 4, 2008

What's PET? Molecular Imaging service from the IAT

The Institute of Advanced Technology (IAT is one of the most technologically advanced centres in southern Europe in molecular imaging such as positron emission tomography (PET and magnetic resonance. It was the first entity to be based at the PRBB in 2004, and it offers its services to the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry.

PET, which is commonly used in oncology and neurosciences, consists on visualising molecules within the organisms in vivo thanks to the fact that these molecules are labelled with a radioactive isotope which emits positrons. It is used for the detection of tumours and the analysis of their development in response to treatment. In neurosciences it is useful for measuring the activity of new psychoactive drugs.

The IAT has a cyclotron (of 23 tons of weight) inside a bunker in the basement. The cyclotron is a particle accelerator that converts stable elements into radioisotopes, which are then transferred to the radiochemical laboratory. Once in the laboratory, the radiotracers (the molecules of interest with a radioisotope incorporated) are synthesized. The radiotracers are then administered to the patient or the laboratory animal, who is subjected to the PET or micro-PET, where the radiation emission is converted into an image in a non-invasive manner.

The IAT, currently with a staff of 22 people, is a non-for-profit foundation fostered by the ‘CRC Corporaci├│ Sanit├ária’ group, the Municipal Institute for Health Assistance (IMAS), the CLINIC Corporation, and the Foundation ‘Institut de Recerca Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron’.

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