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Advancing Nuclear Medicine through Innovation
The development of new technology platforms (e.g., integrated microfluidics chips and other automated chemistry and biological screening technologies and nanotechnologies) that would accelerate, diversify, and lower the cost of discovering and validating new molecular imaging probes, biomarkers, surrogate markers, and labeled drugs, as well as new radiotherapeutic agents.
The invention of new miniaturized particle-accelerator and associated technologies to develop small, low-cost electronic generators for producing short-lived radioisotopes for local use in research and clinical programs. DOE has the largest accelerator technology program in the world, including novel miniaturized accelerator technologies in the DOE weapons program.
The invention of new detector technologies for PET and SPECT that would enhance sensitivity as well as spatial and temporal resolution. All the successful detectors in PET and SPECT today came from the physics programs of DOE. New base detector materials and detection logic are needed to invent new generations of PET and SPECT imaging systems.
The development of new iterative algorithms and high-speed/high-capacity computational systems for rapid image reconstruction; this would allow image data to be converted to quantitative parametric images pertaining to biological and pharmacological processes in disease.
Synergistic collaborations between national laboratories and universities have led to the successful transition of technology from the basic physics laboratory to both biological research and clinical settings. Furthermore, the collaborations between the DOE-funded laboratories and the NIH-funded laboratories have illustrated the value of funding from different agencies with different missions. However, with the loss of nuclear medicine funding from the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (DOE-OBER) in FY 2006, the amount being spent on basic instrument development has fallen from $6.3 million to only $1.9 million (DOE 2006), limiting the ability to explore new and innovative technology solutions.
Developments in nuclear imaging instrumentation directly provide tangible benefits for the emerging field of molecular imaging. Three examples of these upcoming technologies include TOF PET, combined PET/MR machines, and SPECT/CT with the potential to allow quantification of single photon radiotracers for the first time; these three technologies will directly impact future patient management in the following ways:
TOF PET allows significant improvements in clinical image