While we are a small group, we are actively adding compounds to our list of available tracers for use by researchers. We have been working with investigators, not only on campus at the University of Chicago, but also with investigators at Northwestern University (both Medical and Main Campuses), University of Illinois Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Abbvie. Some of these compounds are new and proprietary. Often the production of these specific compounds is accompanied by pre-clinical animal studies in our iSAIRR animal imaging facility. In other instances, the final drug product is shipped to the investigator to conduct these pre-clinical imaging studies locally.
Compounds that are readily available for use here on campus or to be shipped within the greater Chicago area currently include: 18F-FLT or Fluorothymidine, a proliferation agent. The University currently holds an FDA approved IND for this agent and therefore it is available for human research studies. 18F-Miso or Fluoromisonadazole, a hypoxia imaging agent. Other agents and their intended targets are listed below.
- 18F-FAP (or 18F- 2FA) is a nicotinic receptor agent.
- 18F-FLT or Fluorothymidine is a proliferations agent and is available for human (research) use under an FDA approved IND held by the University
- 18F-FDG or Fluorodeoxyglucose, an approved drug used in many human use studies. This agent is not produced under an ANDA and therefore cannot be injected into humans and is intended for pre-clinical animal use only.
- 18F-NaF or sodium fluoride, an approved bone seeking drug for metastases. As for FDG above, this is not for human use.
- 18F-3F4AP. This small molecule was developed by Pedro Brugaralos, Ph.D., then of the Department of Neurology here at the University of Chicago. It is a demylination marked and shows promise as an imaging agent for multiple sclerosis.
18F – NaBF4 sodium/iodide symporter marker.
- 13N-ammonia. This like FDG above, while being an approved drug, is only available for non-human research studies at this time.
- 18F-Nifene another nicotinic receptor agent is currently being developed.
- 11C-PIB an Alzheimer’s amyloid plaque imaging agent is currently being developed.
- 18VO(acac)2s Oncological imaging agent for detection and staging.
Critical to using any of these agents or to developing a new compound is an understanding of the amount of work and effort that goes into even routine production of standard compounds. Researchers new to PET imaging are often shocked at the tracer costs. However, one has to understand that the cyclotron itself costs typically $1.7M or more and that syntheses usually involve two staff members to run the machine and do the chemistry and QC and that pre- and post-work can add another one or two hours to a synthesis that itself can easily take two hours. Precursors range from $50/run to over $250/run. Obviously other reagents, supplies, kits, glassware, vials, needles, etc. are also needed. Depending on the compound and the radioisotope, a single dose can cover between 1 and 4 (or more) animals such as mice or rats. Care has to be exercised because even for mice, since the maximum injectable dose is typically 100-200 μL, the amount of drug and radioactivity needed to be produced often approaches human amounts. Scanning costs are separate.
Provided that the licenses allow for given radioisotopes, the drugs can be shipped to facilities outside of the University of Chicago. Shipping charges depend on the location and the shipping containers are the property of the Cyclotron Facility and must be shipped back to the Facility while completely complying with Department of Transportation rules and regulations.
Shipped drugs are shipped in sterile, septum sealed vials and not syringes.