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Molecular Imaging Homepage

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ANSTO and Children’s Cancer Institute in Sydney collab to develop new imaging protocol

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style
ANSTO’s unique capabilities and expertise in the production and application of radiotracers for imaging have been highlighted in a recent publication in the journal Theranostics.

In collaboration with researchers from the Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) in Sydney, imaging was pivotal in understanding the mechanism of a promising new treatment developed at CCI for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

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Dr Arvind Parmar, Dr Giancarlo Pascali and Dr Orazio Vittorio of CCI led the development of a new PET imaging protocol using small quantity of the radioactive form of copper chloride that measured in vivo neuroblastoma tumour response to the drug Dextran-Catechin in a pre-clinical laboratory model.

Catechin is a polyphenol found in green tea and other healthy foods and its conjugation with dextran, a naturally occurring polysaccharide, sustains the anti-cancer action of Catechin.

In 2016 Dr Vittorio’s team discovered that that neuroblastoma tumour cells need high levels of copper to survive. More recently the collaborating researchers used a radioactive form of copper to evaluate the imbalance of this metal created by Dextran-Catechin treatment.

Copper chloride, [64Cu]CuCl2 a known radiotracer built from the radioisotope copper 64, is typically used as starting material to create more complex radiotracers. Although initial studies have highlighted its potential use in clinical applications, it is currently seldom utilized in PET imaging.

However, the idea to use this simple radiotracer to study the mechanism of drug was novel.

“Early studies by Dr Vittorio’s team showed that the Dextran-Catechin drug had an effect on copper levels, which gave us the idea that we could use simple copper chloride to evaluate the drug mechanism and evaluate drug efficacy,” said Pascali.

Molecular Imaging Scientist Parmar decided on the suitable laboratory model and on the organisation of the imaging protocol for these studies.

“The real power of the PET imaging technique is its capacity to capture biochemical processes at the molecular level, such as the regulation of copper” said Parmar.

The copper chloride was produced and supplied by the Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth and all PET imaging was undertaken at ANSTO's Lucas Heights campus.

PET imaging Dextran catechin and control
Comparison of PET/CT imaging of Dextran-Catechin and saline treated mice.
The data accumulated from PET imaging and biological assays provided evidence that Dextran-Catechin worked by degrading copper transporter 1, which is mainly responsible of tumour copper uptake.
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