The scientific research strategy of the Turku PET Centre involves six major topics: Cardiovascular and Metabolic research, Brain research, Cancer research, Preclinical studies and Drug development, Radiochemistry research and Data processing and image analysis.
Collaboration between academia and industry is also active. The studies are carried out together with basic scientists, dedicated physicists and radiochemists, experienced clinical investigators and other professionals.
CARDIOVASCULAR AND METABOLIC RESEARCH
PET is the only noninvasive method to study metabolic pathways in vivo in human tissues and it is well suited to the study tissue metabolism in cardiovascular and endocrinological diseases and in malignant tumors.
The Turku PET Centre is in the forefront in developing new PET methods and analysis models. Our current selection of methods includes facilities to study blood volume, perfusion, oxygen consumption, glucose and fatty acid metabolism and neurotransmission. These processes can be studied quantitatively throughout the human body. In addition, the effective use of complementary methods such as other nuclear medicine techniques, ultrasound, multislice CT MRI and microdialysis give the Turku PET Centre more complementary approach. This research field got The National Centre of Excellence status from Academy of Finland for years 2008-2019.
Among the advantages of PET in brain research are very high sensitivity and specificity, high spatial resolution and quantification of tracer uptake. The program coordinates brain neurotransmission studies in experimental and clinical settings. One of the strengths of the Turku PET Centre is a solid basis for studies on specific neurotransmitter systems, taking advantage from long-standing experience in receptor biochemistry and radiochemistry. The specific neurotransmitter approach can be complemented as required with techniques for exploring brain function at a system level such as perfusion or glucose uptake. The project also utilises multimodality imaging (MEG and fMRI) and multidiscipline approaches (neuropsychology, genetics of human behaviour, personality, cognition research). In experimental studies several other methodologies, such as microdialysis and conventional in vitro and ex vivo autoradiographic techniques utilise the highest quality phosphoimager systems.
PRECLINICAL IMAGING AND DRUG RESEARCH
The pharmaceutical industry has found the internationally recognized academic expertise in focused clinical areas attractive for drug development. Receptor occupancy studies are currently the most common type of PET study in drug development. The PET technique allows considerable abbreviation of phase II studies since the number of patients to be studied for dose finding is markedly reduced. The mechanism of drug action
in a specific patient population can also be studied. The Turku PET Centre has performed other studies in the field of drug development, including development of ligands for alpha-adrenergic receptors, non-peptide structure ligands for brain peptidergic systems, COMT-inhibition in Parkinson’s disease, calcium sensitizers in cardiac failure, hemodynamic and metabolic effects of a beeta-blocking agent and the effects of statin on myocardial flow reserve.
The staff of PET Centre is available for discussions with the pharmaceutical industry. The Centre is a non-profit organisation and the fees are based on the cost calculations. The projects are designed to be definite and cost-effective. The Centre operates in accordance with quality guidelines, GCP, GMP, ICH, etc. We perform collaborative drug development studies with the pharmaceutical industry on the contract basis.
RADIOCHEMISTRY AND TARGETRY
The aims of radiochemistry research are to develop radionuclide production with the aim of producing large quantities of 11C-, 13N-, 15O-, 68Ga-, 64Cu- and 18F-labeled precursors with high specific radioactivity, to develop methods and automation for synthesis of high specific radioactivity labeled PET radiotracers and to develop labeled PET radiotracers for studies in humans in both health and disease.
The research on radionuclide production and targetry is focused on the understanding of in-target processes, i.e. ”hot-atom” chemistry. A central research aim is the development of improved cyclotron target technology for reliable production of positron-emitting radionuclides in various chemical forms in order to increase production yields, specific radioactivity, radionuclidic and chemical purity.