A chemist at the University of Arkansas has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance development of porous nanoreactors to improve the speed and accuracy of early cancer detection through positron-emission tomography, commonly known as PET imaging.
The $428,285 grant to Hassan Beyzavi, assistant professor of chemistry, supports his work to improve the effectiveness of the noninvasive biomedical imaging method. PET imaging is used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.
“Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States,” Beyzavi said. “However, the mortality rate can be often greatly reduced by early diagnosis and therapy.”
His research is focused on improving the accuracy of PET scans, through development of nanoreactors that bind radioactive isotopes to tumor cells more effectively than current methods.
PET uses fluorine-18, a radioactive isotope, to detect tumor cells. The fluorine-18 must be added to specially designed molecules called tracers that are injected into the body to bind with tumor cell receptors. The PET scans pick up the radiation from the tracers that have become bound to cancer cells.