The UW contrast agent development lab is involved in the design, synthesis, and evaluation of novel targeted molecular imaging agents for computed tomography, magnetic resonance, and nuclear medicine including PET. Our design strategy is based on a biochemical approach, whereby naturally occurring compounds known to be stored and or metabolized in the organ or tissue of interest serve as carriers for the radiologic moiety. Examples of current projects include continued development of both hepatocyte and blood pool-selective CT contrast agents as well as radiolabeled phospholipid ether (PLE) analogs that are selectively retained in all animal malignant tumor models (25/25) studied to date. We recently received an IND for one of these agents, NM404, and are currently evaluating the diagnostic potential of this agent in human lung cancer patients.
The lab is unique in that we perform all synthesis, analysis, formulation, and evaluation pharmacokinetic and multimodality imaging totally within our group. Moreover, we work very closely with the molecular imaging group here at UW and also with tumor biologists and clinicians. We are fortunate to have an extremely strong and cooperative association with cancer geneticists on campus who have developed a variety of relevant cancer models. Our CT contrast agents are now being supplied by ART Advanced Research Technologies, Inc. (Quebec, CA) for preclinical use in animal model microCT scanning.