Source: Image created by CA Ferreira et al., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

Reston, VA (Embargoed until 4:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, June 12, 2021) – Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with a 68Ga-labeled Fibroblast Activation Protein Inhibitor (FAPI) can non-invasively identify and monitor pulmonary fibrosis, according to the study presented at the 2021 annual conference of the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. By binding to activated fibroblasts in the affected lungs, FAPI-PET enables the disease process to be mapped directly.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) causes significant scarring of the lungs, making it difficult for people to breathe. It is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with more than 40,000 deaths annually. A major challenge in the diagnosis and treatment of IPF is the lack of a specific diagnostic tool that can non-invasively diagnose and assess disease activity, which is critical to the management of patients with pulmonary fibrosis.

“CT scans can provide doctors with information about anatomical features and other effects of IPF, but not current activity status. Our goal was to identify and map a direct non-invasive biomarker for early detection, disease monitoring, and accurate assessment of treatment response, ”said Carolina de Aguiar Ferreira, PhD, research fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin.

In the study, researchers targeted the fibroblast activation protein (FAP) overexpressed in IPF as a potential biomarker. Two groups of mice – a group with induced pulmonary fibrosis and a control group – were scanned at multiple time points with the FAPI-based PET / CT radiotracer 68Ga-FAPI-46. Compared to the control group, the mice with induced pulmonary fibrosis had a much higher uptake of the radiotracer, which allowed the researchers to successfully identify and evaluate areas of IPF.

“Further validation of 68Ga-FAPI-46 for the detection and monitoring of pulmonary fibrosis would make this molecular imaging tool the first technology for early, direct and non-invasive detection of disease. It would also allow molecular imaging to reduce the frequency of lung biopsies, which have their own risks, ”said Ferreira. “This development will show that functional imaging can play an invaluable role in assessing the disease process.”

Summary 10. “Targeting Activated Fibroblasts for Non-invasive Detection of Lung Fibrosis”, Carolina Ferreira, Zachary Rosenkrans, Ksenija Bernau, Jeanine Batterton, Christopher Massey, Alan McMillan, Nathan Sandbo, Ali Pirasteh and Reinier Hernandez, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, Wisconsin; and Melissa Moore, Frank Valla and Christopher Drake, Sofie Biosciences, Dulles, Virginia.

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All abstracts of the SNMMI annual conference 2021 are available online at https: //sb.snmjournale.Organization/Content/62 /Supplement_1.

About the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging results.

SNMMI members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings, and advocating key issues affecting the research and practice of molecular imaging and therapy. Further information is available at http: // www.snmmi.org .

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