Scientists use PET scans to monitor lung inflammation noninvasively

In this PET image, the arrow shows inflammation of the lungs.A noninvasive approach for assessing lung inflammation should accelerate efforts to develop drugs for inflammatory lung conditions like cystic fibrosis and pneumonia, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report. Researchers have used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to monitor artificially induced inflammation in the lungs of healthy volunteers. The new imaging process may help doctors monitor the conditions of patients with inflammatory lung diseases and should make it easier for investigators to test potential anti-inflammatory drugs.

Out of sight

Researchers discovered activity in a part of the brain called the extrastriate body both when subjects viewed body parts and when they pointed to an object.Although we don’t often think about it, the brain is a very complicated place. Even the simple act of pointing at an object requires an intricate network of brain activity. Scientists traditionally thought this network included a one-way “information highway” between the brain’s visual system and its motor and sensory systems, but research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis now challenges that long-held theory. The study demonstrates that the brain’s visual system is responsible not only for seeing and perceiving objects outside the body, but also is involved when individuals sense and manipulate their own bodies.

PET scans after therapy improve cervical cancer survival predictions

GrigsbyDoctors regularly use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to diagnose cervical cancer, taking advantage of the technique’s ability to highlight metabolic differences in cancerous tissues. But PET is rarely used for follow-up assessment of cervical cancer patients after treatment. A study in the June 1 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that post-treatment PET scans could help physicians better predict which patients are largely cancer-free as a result of their treatment and which patients may soon be likely to need additional treatment.

Brain’s ‘resting’ network offers powerful new method for early Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Image courtesy of Cindy LustigParts of the brain involved in a “resting network” show large differences between young adults, older adults, and people with Alzheimer’s disease.Researchers tracking the ebb and flow of cognitive function in the human brain have discovered surprising differences in the ability of younger and older adults to shut down a brain network normally active during periods of passive daydreaming. The differences, which are especially pronounced in people with dementia, may provide a clear and powerful new method for diagnosing individuals in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Math tool promising for radiation oncology

A new technique in development may produce quick and efficient radiation dosing.Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a technique that drastically decreases the time a radiation oncologist spends calculating radiation dosages and also provides a more carefully controlled dosage with less damage to nearby healthy tissues. They have applied a mathematical tool called wavelet analysis to radiation dose distributions simulations and have sped up the dose calculations by a factor of two or more over the standby dose calculation.

WUSTL research spotlighted at Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting, June 21-25

Smoking is more common among kids with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than those without the disorder, but the risk for smoking rises dramatically in those with the inattentive subtype of ADHD.Advances in medical imaging techniques are among the breakthroughs being presented by Washington University researchers at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s 50th Annual Meeting June 21-25 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. More than 3,600 specialists in the field of nuclear medicine are expected to attend the meeting, which focuses on current issues in nuclear medicine, including bioethics, terrorism using radioactive materials, and controversial topics in the future of PET. WUSTL-related news from the meeting includes research on a new MicroPet technique for improved imaging of small animals and a study suggesting that FDHT-PET scanning of androgen receptors (AR) is successful in imaging patients with prostate cancer. Washington University cancer imaging specialist Barry A. Siegel will receive the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s (SNM) 2003 Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award for his distinguished contributions to nuclear medicine.