Feindel Brain and Mind Seminar Series: Radiochemistry for Brain PET and SPECT

Monday, October 30, 2023 13:00to14:00
Montreal Neurological Institute De Grandpre Communications Centre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA

Register here

Stream via Vimeo here

Justin Hicks

PhD, Radiochemist and Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute and Assistant Professor, Western University

Abstract: Molecular imaging with PET and SPECT has unequivocally changed how we study and understand diseases. These nuclear medicine imaging techniques have been especially useful in neurology where external access is limited. From simple diatomic oxygen to drug-like species such as fluorodeoxyglucose or antibodies conjugates, there is an enormous scope of molecules that can be radiolabeled with an equally large array of radionuclides. These “hot” tools can then be employed to study the human body along an equally complex continuum of health and disease. By matching up the physical decay with the biological half-life, everything from the rate of oxygen metabolism to the tumor progression can be studied. Given the need to discover, radiolabel, and safely produce radiopharmaceuticals, it can be said that radiochemistry forms a foundation for PET and SPECT imaging.

While it is often flashy to describe new biomarkers/targets or the next great radiotracer innovation, often the nitty gritty of manufacturing these short-lived drugs is forgotten or not understood. This can cause frustration among end-user when clinical approval of radiotracers is delayed or there are last minute failures. For this seminar, I will provide insight into the clinical productions of very short-lived radiotracers such as [15O]oxygen and water to show how even the simplest molecules have complicated regulatory hurdles to overcome. Next, I'll review our experiences translating clinical radiotracers from other sites including [18F]SynVesT-1 (synaptic density), [18F]FEPPA (microglial activation), and [18F]FEOBV (cholinergic tone). Throughout the above translation, there is always room for improved methods. Our efforts to prepare [11C]butanol, [13N]ammonia, and [18F]tetrafluoroborate will be used as examples. Lastly, recent results to prepare 99mTc alternatives to popular PET probes for amyloid beta plaques will be described. These SPECT derivatives can be prepared in low resource setting where PET infrastructure is lacking, and could provide a cost savings for routine use where PET is available.

Participants will learn how radiotracer discovery is undertaken, what is required to prepare radiotracers for human administration, and why this last minute, one chance process is simultaneously exciting and frustrating for all involved.

The Feindel Brain and Mind Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.


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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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