Gamma ray imaging visualizes bio-metals and molecules simultaneously

10 May 2013

Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies in Japan have developed a new molecular imaging technology that can visualize bio-metals and bio-molecules simultaneously in a live mouse.

They have developed a gamma-ray imaging camera that can detect the gamma-rays emitted by multiple bio-metal elements in the body and study their behaviour.

Metal elements such as zinc, iron and copper are present in trace amounts in the body and play an important role in many biological processes including gene expression, signal transduction and metabolic reactions. Abnormalities in the behaviour of these elements often reflect abnormalities in associated bio-molecules and studying them together can offer great insight into many biological processes.

Bio-molecules can be visualized in living organisms using positron emission tomography (PET), a widely used nuclear medicine molecular-imaging technique. Their second prototype of the system, called GREIā€“II and presented in the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, visualizes multiple bio-metal elements more than 10 times faster than before, and to do so simultaneously with positron emission tomography (PET).

In the study, the researchers were able to visualise two radioactive agents injected in a tumour-bearing mouse, as well as an anti-tumour antibody labelled with a PET molecular probe agent, simultaneously in the live mouse.

This new technology is expected to offer new insights into the relationships between bio-metal elements and associated bio-molecules, and the roles they play in diseases such as diabetes and cancer.


Shinji Motomura et al. Improved imaging performance of semiconductor Compton camera GREI makes for a new methodology to integrate bio-metal analysis and molecular imaging technology in living organisms. JAAS 2013 DOI:10.1039/C3JA30185K



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