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Courtesy of Piramal Imaging GmbH

German researchers develop new PET tracer for detecting blood clots

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
Since anticoagulants for treating for blood clots have the potential to cause life-threatening excessive bleeding, clinicians must weigh the risk of bleeding against the risk of clotting in each patient.

In the future, a new fluorine-18 labeled PET tracer, developed in Germany, may help them make these important decisions. This novel discovery is the topic of a featured article in this month’s issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

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“Although the current studies are preliminary, 18F-GP1 may provide not only more accurate anatomic localization, but also information of the risk of the clot growth or embolization,” Dr. Andrew W. Stephens of Piramal Imaging told HCB News. “This may lead to changes in clinical intervention to the individual patient.”

18F-GP1 targets the key receptor involved in platelet clumping, which is known as GPIIb/IIIa. The standard imaging modalities for detecting blood clots such as CT and ultrasound rely on structural characteristics, but the new PET tracer provides physiological information.

“Currently available diagnostic techniques of thrombus imaging rely on different modalities, depending on the vascular territory,” said Stephens. “[They] detect anatomic abnormalities, in this case vascular occlusions, and provide little information on the biological processes ongoing at the level of the occlusion.”

In a preclinical study involving monkeys, the team found that 18F-GP1 strongly accumulates at the site of the thrombus formation, and that its binding ability was not impaired by the anticoagulants. The tracer showed rapid blood clearance, and PET imaging detected small venous and arterial clots, endothelial damage and emboli in the brain.

Because of these positive findings, a clinical study investigating 18F-GP1 is currently underway. First results from an interim analysis are promising and were presented last month at the SNMMI annual meeting.

“The currently available clinical data are preliminary and more research is necessary to better understand the full potential of this compound,” said Stephens.

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