AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


New Metabolic PET Tracer Developed

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine recently devised a new way to allow for brain tumor tissue to stand out more during PET scans. In order to do so, researchers capitalized on the fact that rapidly dividing cancer cells require vast molecular stockpiles to create new cells. To meet this need, cancer cells express higher-than-normal levels of a protein called pyruvate kinase M2, or PKM2. “Tumor cells do all kinds of things to survive and prosper in the body,” said a professor of radiology and director of the molecular imaging program at Stanford. “One of the key things they modify is a master switch that controls cell metabolism and allows the cell to make more of the building blocks necessary for cell division. But until now we’ve had no way to assess the presence or activity levels of the PKM2 protein involved in that switch.” The molecular tracer that was used to track PKM2 activity told researchers exactly where in the brain the cancer cells were hiding. Although the tracer has only been tested in mice to date, the researchers believe it could also give important and speedy information about how a tumor is responding to therapy, explaining that it’s the first time they can noninvasively interrogate the biochemistry of a tumor with respect to this master switch PKM2. To read more about this study, click here.

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