by Benjamin RotsteinImaging glucose utilization is a mainstay and the most well-known application of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. If one had to choose a single tracer that headlines the technology, surely many would select [18F]2-deoxy-2-fluoro-d-glucose ([18F]FDG). But imaging with [18F]FDG does not reflect the total picture of glucose distribution and metabolism in vivo; it mostly tells us about the facilitated glucose transporters GLUTs, and especially GLUT1, which provides basal glucose supply to almost all tissues. Over the last several years, a group out of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has been developing radiotracers for the sodium-glucose linked transporters (SGLTs). Methyl [18F]4-deoxy-4-fluoro-α-D-glucosepyranoside ([18F]Me-4FDG) is also a glucose derivative, but is a poor substrate for the GLUTs and has greater affinity for SGLT1 and SGLT2. Similar to [18F]FDG, [18F]Me-4FDG is effectively trapped intracellularly as it is not a substrate for further downstream metabolism and due to low rate of exit through SGLTs.
Hi Thomas, what excites you about your work? What is your favourite aspect of your research?Radiopharmaceutical sciences is an interdisciplinary research field at the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine. Therefore it requires interactions and exchange with scientists of different fields. This can be a challenge, but definitely very rewarding. Radiopharmaceutical science is application-driven, meaning that research efforts are focussed on the eventual translation of new molecular imaging probes (and radiotherapeutics) into the clinic. As a result, promising new compounds undergo biological evaluation and do not simply end up in the freezer for storage after the publication of the synthesis.What is your vision of the future of radiochemistry/radiopharmacy/nuclear medicine?These research fields are currently rapidly expanding thanks to recent developments (e.g., approved radiolabelled octreotides and PSMA ligands). Personalized medicine is not a buzz word but has become the focus of new approaches to address future challenges faced globally by healthcare systems. I strongly believe that nuclear medicine, and thus radiopharmaceuticals sciences, will play a pivotal role in this.What is your opinion on why young researcher should choose radiochemistry/radiopharmacy/nuclear medicine as their research discipline? Non-invasive imaging is an important (and cool) diagnostic tool! Theranostic approaches in nuclear medicine go a step further by applying the developed radiopharmaceuticals also for targeted nuclear therapy. All that to the benefit of patients. Diagnosis and therapy - does it get any better? Do you have any encouraging advices for young researchers to succeed in the world of science? Be curious and persistent. Stay informed what is going on in other research fields and expand your knowledge whenever possible. Good observation skills and being critical to reported (also your own) data often pays off. If I were not a scientist, I would likely be a chef or cartoonist.Biosketch Full Name Thomas Mindt