Radiotracers for positron emission tomography provide a non-invasive means to peer into the human body to understand chemical and biochemical interactions. We radiotracers from our lab and from others (see tracer page) to explore chemistry in the human brain. We also develop new radiotracers with the explicit goal of translation (moving from animals into humans as quickly as possible). Currently we are working to develop radiotracers for certain receptor subtypes of the serotonin (5HT) system.
For example, we are interested in the development of tools for studying 5HT2c. The serotonin receptor subtype 2c (5HT2c) is expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and has been identified as a target for the treatment of obesity, drug abuse, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease. A direct link between 5HT2c receptor system abnormalities and these diseases has proven difficult to establish, however, due to an inability to accurately quantify 5HT2c receptor density and function in the CNS in humans. There exist only a few methods for probing 5HT2c receptors in vitro, none of which are capable of quantifying 5HT2c receptors in vivo. Thus, the development of techniques for visualizing 5HT2c receptors in vivo represents a key step in understanding both the normal function and pathophysiology of the serotonin system.