This interdisciplinary effort will develop and validate a new PET ligand for imaging microglial inflammation in Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Intimate knowledge and experience in the areas of neurobiology, neuroimmunology, AD research, radiochemistry, medicinal chemistry, rational drug design and discovery, and clinical Neurology are all essential to the success and long-term impact of this project. A collaborative effort will be undertaken between Dr. Katrin Andreasson in the Department of Neurology, Dr. Michelle James in the Department of Radiology, and Dr. Sanjay Malhotra, in the Division of Radiation and Cancer Biology. Dr. James will bring expertise in PET radiochemistry and molecular imaging of neuroinflammation, specifically concerning synthesis and evaluation of novel PET imaging agents and rodent PET/CT/MR imaging. Dr. Andreasson will bring both clinical and basic science expertise in mechanisms of neurodegeneration and inflammation in AD. Dr. Malhotra will bring expertise in medicinal chemistry and drug development for the design/identification of small molecules and/or peptides targeting inflammation in AD development.
A novel PET agent targeting inflammation will have great potential for clinical translation and may impact many aspects of AD research, including but not limited to: (1) helping to elucidate when and where the earliest microglial changes occur in AD, (2) serving to confirm clinical diagnosis of AD at potentially very early stages, and (3) playing a crucial role in the development and translation of new disease-modifying therapeutics.