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Researchers Develop PET Probe to Assist Pulmonary Fibrosis Patients

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 12 Apr 2017
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Image: A PET/CT image showing the lungs of a patient with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Image: A PET/CT image showing the lungs of a patient with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Researchers have developed a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging probe that can help diagnose and stage pulmonary fibrosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that may in part be caused by exposure of patients to pollutants, or from other diseases, and causes the buildup of scar tissue. This stiffens the lung tissue and restricts oxygen absorption and breathing. The condition can lead to death in patients between three and five years.

The researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital published their results in the April 2017 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The collagen-targeting probe, called 68Ga-CBP8, was able to bind to the lung scar tissue of animal models indicating the extent of fibrosis. The researchers also showed how fibrosis could be reduced in animals using an anti-fibrotic drug. The researchers also used human lung tissue, and found that the probe could differentiate between stable pulmonary fibrosis and progressive fibrosis.

Experiments using another model showed that there was increased uptake of the probe in areas where there was more extensive fibrosis. This model was also able to track disease progression over time.

Co-corresponding author of the paper, Michael Lanuti, MD, from the MGH Division of Thoracic Surgery, said, "The ability of molecular PET imaging with this probe to detect early-stage fibrosis would allow us to begin treatment when it would be most effective. This probe may also be able to distinguish new, active fibrosis from stable disease, which would allow clinicians to better tailor therapy to individual patients. And since response to therapy is difficult to ascertain with high-resolution CT scanning, PET molecular imaging may be a more sensitive way to detect changes in active fibrosis."

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