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Molecular Imaging Homepage

PET imaging used for the first time to evaluate Zika virus in mouse model May aid in development of therapeutic agents

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Fortunately, the research underway is supported by a five-year, $15.5 million grant by the NIH High-Risk, High Reward Program — one of eight given in the NIH’s transformative research category in 2015.

The team has also faced engineering challenges related to the large number of detectors and channels of electronics, physical size, power consumption, cooling and large amounts of data that the system generates. According to Cherry, those challenges are being resolved and a small-scale prototype for testing all the components will be complete before summer.
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Using components donated by Siemens Healthineers, the EXPLORER consortium has already built a small-scale version of the system for primate whole-body imaging.

"We believe we have gathered leaders in the medical imaging field to quickly and cost-effectively bring this technology to reality in an exciting and innovative way," said Ramsey Badawi, professor of radiology at UC Davis and co-leader of the project, in reference to the just-announced partnerships.

Even after the logistical aspect of development is complete, Cherry and his team will still need to define and develop applications for the scanner that will impact patients’ lives. Everything from easing patient claustrophobia, to providing easy access for maintenance and replacement parts, to figuring out exactly how this powerful imaging system is going to help physicians better understand and treat disease.

“Developing the radiotracers, quantitative imaging tools and protocols to exploit the capabilities of this advanced technology will be the most exciting part, which will commence once the full-size scanner is built,” said Cherry. “We already have a long list of studies planned!”

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