Converting Energy to Medical Progress

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The BER research program at the University of Michigan covers a spectrum of research in radiopharmaceuticals, from their chemical design and synthesis to their implementation in PET and SPECT brain chemistry studies. Scientists here also have renowned expertise in the development of computer science for nuclear medicine imaging systems. This coordinated effort has contributed valuable insight to several neurologic disorders that affect movement, memory, aging, and dementia.

Radiochemists here have developed several techniques that now make it practical and economical for drug companies to commercially manufacture certain radiopharmaceuticals. In the area of imaging systems, scientists here were among the first to develop a pixel-by-pixel method for analyzing PET data to study pharmacokinetics (i.e., the activity and fate of drugs in the body, such as absorption, distribution, and excretion).

Alzheimer's Disease
Brain scan of patient with Alzheimer's disease

These brain scans illustrate the functional specificity of two radiopharmaceuticals for different biochemical processes. The patient with Alzheimer's disease shows a diffuse pattern of decreased activity of acetylcholine esterase, an enzyme involved in memory. In the patient with Parkinson's disease, the image shows reduced activity of a specific monoamine transporter, a brain function crucial to the dopamine system that controls body movements.

Parkinson's Disease
Brain scan of patient with Parkinson's disease

BER scientists in Ann Arbor anticipate that their nuclear medicine research will lead to improved medical management of neurologic diseases, a better match of patients to effective drug therapies, a more rational pathway to the development of new drug treatments, and new insights about biochemical mechanisms that naturally protect the brain from neurologic diseases.

Next: 50-Year Commitment to Improved Healthcare through Nuclear Medicine


Table of Contents * About BER * Many Patients * How Does It Work? * BER Medical * Future Healthcare * BNL * LBNL * ORNL * Sloan-Kettering * UCLA * Washington Univ. * Univ. of Michigan * 50-Years * Credits

Published April 2001

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