The next step will be testing the two probes in humans with a range of diseases, including cancer and auto-immune disorders, to confirm the work.
Witte and his colleagues licensed the FAC probe to Sofie Biosciences, which is owned in part by Witte and other UCLA faculty members. Researchers created the small molecule by slightly altering the molecular structure of one of the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs, gemcitabine. They then added a radiolabel so the cells that take in the probe can be seen during PET scanning.
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The probe measures the activity of a fundamental cell biochemical pathway called the DNA salvage pathway, which acts as a recycling mechanism that helps with DNA replication and repair. All cells use this biochemical pathway to different degrees. But in lymphocytes and macrophages that are proliferating during an immune response, the pathway is activated to very high levels. Because of that, the probe accumulates at high levels in those cells, Witte said.
Partial support for this work came from a tools and technology grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2009, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 12 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 10 consecutive years. For more information on the Jonsson Cancer Center, visit our website at http://www.cancer.ucla.edu.
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