All Publications

  • In Silico Approaches for Addressing Challenges in CNS Radiopharmaceutical Design. ACS chemical neuroscience Jackson, I. M., Webb, E. W., Scott, P. J., James, M. L. 2022


    Positron emission tomography (PET) is a highly sensitive and versatile molecular imaging modality that leverages radiolabeled molecules, known as radiotracers, to interrogate biochemical processes such as metabolism, enzymatic activity, and receptor expression. The ability to probe specific molecular and cellular events longitudinally in a noninvasive manner makes PET imaging a particularly powerful technique for studying the central nervous system (CNS) in both health and disease. Unfortunately, developing and translating a single CNS PET tracer for clinical use is typically an extremely resource-intensive endeavor, often requiring synthesis and evaluation of numerous candidate molecules. While existing in vitro methods are beginning to address the challenge of derisking molecules prior to costly in vivo PET studies, most require a significant investment of resources and possess substantial limitations. In the context of CNS drug development, significant time and resources have been invested into the development and optimization of computational methods, particularly involving machine learning, to streamline the design of better CNS therapeutics. However, analogous efforts developed and validated for CNS radiotracer design are conspicuously limited. In this Perspective, we overview the requirements and challenges of CNS PET tracer design, survey the most promising computational methods for in silico CNS drug design, and bridge these two areas by discussing the potential applications and impact of computational design tools in CNS radiotracer design.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00269

    View details for PubMedID 35606334

  • Radiosynthesis and initial preclinical evaluation of [11C]AZD1283 as a potential P2Y12R PET radiotracer. Nuclear medicine and biology Jackson, I. M., Buccino, P. J., Azevedo, E. C., Carlson, M. L., Luo, A. S., Deal, E. M., Kalita, M., Reyes, S. T., Shao, X., Beinat, C., Nagy, S. C., Chaney, A. M., Anders, D. A., Scott, P. J., Smith, M., Shen, B., James, M. L. 2022


    INTRO: Chronic neuroinflammation and microglial dysfunction are key features of many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's Disease and multiple sclerosis. While there is unfortunately a dearth of highly selective molecular imaging biomarkers/probes for studying microglia in vivo, P2Y12R has emerged as an attractive candidate PET biomarker being explored for this purpose. Importantly, P2Y12R is selectively expressed on microglia in the CNS and undergoes dynamic changes in expression according to inflammatory context (e.g., toxic versus beneficial/healing states), thus having the potential to reveal functional information about microglia in living subjects. Herein, we identified a high affinity, small molecule P2Y12R antagonist (AZD1283) to radiolabel and assess as a candidate radiotracer through in vitro assays and in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of both wild-type and total knockout mice and a non-human primate.METHODS: First, we evaluated the metabolic stability and passive permeability of non-radioactive AZD1283 in vitro. Next, we radiolabeled [11C]AZD1283 with radioactive precursor [11C]NH4CN and determined stability in formulation and human plasma. Finally, we investigated the in vivo stability and kinetics of [11C]AZD1283 via dynamic PET imaging of naive wild-type mice, P2Y12R knockout mouse, and a rhesus macaque.RESULTS: We determined the half-life of AZD1283 in mouse and human liver microsomes to be 37 and>160min, respectively, and predicted passive CNS uptake with a small amount of active efflux, using a Caco-2 assay. Our radiolabeling efforts afforded [11C]AZD1283 in an activity of 12.69±10.64mCi with high chemical and radiochemical purity (>99%) and molar activity of 1142.84±504.73mCi/mumol (average of n=3). Of note, we found [11C]AZD1283 to be highly stable in vitro, with >99% intact tracer present after 90min of incubation in formulation and 60min of incubation in human serum. PET imaging revealed negligible brain signal in healthy wild-type mice (n=3) and a P2Y12 knockout mouse (0.55±0.37%ID/g at 5min post injection). Strikingly, high signal was detected in the liver of all mice within the first 20min of administration (peak uptake=58.28±18.75%ID/g at 5min post injection) and persisted for the remaining duration of the scan. Ex vivo gamma counting of mouse tissues at 60min post-injection mirrored in vivo data with a mean %ID/g of 0.9%±0.40, 0.02%±0.01, and 106±29.70% in the blood, brain, and liver, respectively (n=4). High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of murine blood and liver metabolite samples revealed a single radioactive peak (relative area under peak: 100%), representing intact tracer. Finally, PET imaging of a rhesus macaque also revealed negligible CNS uptake/binding in monkey brain (peak uptake=0.37 Standard Uptake Values (SUV)).CONCLUSION: Despite our initial encouraging liver microsome and Caco-2 monolayer data, in addition to the observed high stability of [11C]AZD1283 in formulation and human serum, in vivo brain uptake was negligible and rapid accumulation was observed in the liver of both naive wildtype and P2Y12R knockout mice. Liver signal appeared to be independent of both metabolism and P2Y12R expression due to the confirmation of intact tracer in this tissue for both wildtype and P2Y12R knockout mice. In Rhesus Macaque, negligible uptake of [11C]AZD1283 brain indicates a lack of potential for translation or its further investigation in vivo. P2Y12R is an extremely promising potential PET biomarker, and the data presented here suggests encouraging metabolic stability for this scaffold; however, the mechanism of liver uptake in mice should be elucidated prior to further analogue development.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2022.05.001

    View details for PubMedID 35680502

  • TRACKING INNATE IMMUNE ACTIVATION IN A MOUSE MODEL OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE USING TREM1 AND TSPO PET TRACERS. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine Lucot, K. L., Stevens, M. Y., Bonham, T. A., Azevedo, E. C., Chaney, A. M., Webber, E. D., Jain, P., Klockow, J. L., Jackson, I. M., Carlson, M. L., Graves, E. E., Montine, T. J., James, M. L. 2022


    Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with aberrant innate immune responses, including microglial activation and infiltration of peripheral myeloid cells into the central nervous system (CNS). Methods to investigate innate immune activation in PD are limited and have not yet elucidated key interactions between neuroinflammation and peripheral inflammation. Translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO)-positron emission tomography (PET) is a widely evaluated imaging approach for studying activated microglia and peripheral myeloid lineage cells in vivo, however it is yet to be fully explored in PD. Herein we investigate the utility of TSPO-PET, in addition to PET imaging of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1 (TREM1) - a novel biomarker of proinflammatory myeloid cells - for detecting innate immune responses in the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) mouse model of dopaminergic neuron degeneration. Methods: C57/BL6J and TREM1-knockout mice were stereotaxically injected with 6-OHDA in the left striatum; control mice were saline-injected. At day 7 or 14 post-surgery, mice were administered 18F-GE-180, 64Cu-TREM1-mAb or 64Cu-Isotype control-mAb and imaged by PET/CT. Ex vivo autoradiography (ARG) was performed to obtain high resolution images of tracer binding within the brain. Immunohistochemistry was conducted to verify myeloid cell activation and dopaminergic cell death and quantitative PCR and flow cytometry were completed to assess levels of target in the brain. Results: PET/CT images of both tracers showed elevated signal within the striatum of 6-OHDA-injected mice compared to those injected with saline. ARG afforded higher resolution brain images and revealed significant TSPO and TREM1 tracer binding within the ipsilateral striatum of 6-OHDA- compared to saline-injected mice at both 7- and 14-days post-toxin. Interestingly, 18F-GE-180 enabled detection of inflammation in the brain and peripheral tissues (blood and spleen) of 6-OHDA mice, whereas 64Cu-TREM1-mAb appeared to be more sensitive and specific for detecting neuroinflammation, in particular infiltrating myeloid cells, in these mice, as demonstrated by flow cytometry findings and higher tracer binding signal-to-background ratios in brain. Conclusion: TSPO- and TREM1-PET tracers are promising tools for investigating different cell types involved in innate immune activation in the context of dopaminergic neurodegeneration, thus warranting further investigation in other PD rodent models and human postmortem tissue to assess their clinical potential.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.121.263039

    View details for PubMedID 35177426

  • A new in silico approach to revolutionize CNS PET tracer design and enhance translational success Jackson, I., Luo, A., Webb, E., Stevens, M., Scott, P., James, M. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2021: S24-S25
  • Use of 55 PET radiotracers under approval of a Radioactive Drug Research Committee (RDRC). EJNMMI radiopharmacy and chemistry Jackson, I. M., Lee, S. J., Sowa, A. R., Rodnick, M. E., Bruton, L., Clark, M., Preshlock, S., Rothley, J., Rogers, V. E., Botti, L. E., Henderson, B. D., Hockley, B. G., Torres, J., Raffel, D. M., Brooks, A. F., Frey, K. A., Kilbourn, M. R., Koeppe, R. A., Shao, X., Scott, P. J. 2020; 5 (1): 24


    BACKGROUND: In the US, EU and elsewhere, basic clinical research studies with positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracers that are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) can often be conducted under institutional approval. For example, in the United States, such research is conducted under the oversight of a Radioactive Drug Research Committee (RDRC) as long as certain requirements are met. Firstly, the research must be for basic science and cannot be intended for immediate therapeutic or diagnostic purposes, or to determine the safety and effectiveness of the PET radiotracer. Secondly, the PET radiotracer must be generally recognized as safe and effective. Specifically, the mass dose to be administered must not cause any clinically detectable pharmacological effect in humans, and the radiation dose to be administered must be the smallest dose practical to perform the study and not exceed regulatory dose limits within a 1-year period. In our experience, the main barrier to using a PET radiotracer under RDRC approval is accessing the required information about mass and radioactive dosing.RESULTS: The University of Michigan (UM) has a long history of using PET radiotracers in clinical research studies. Herein we provide dosing information for 55 radiotracers that will enable other PET Centers to use them under the approval of their own RDRC committees.CONCLUSIONS: The data provided herein will streamline future RDRC approval, and facilitate further basic science investigation of 55 PET radiotracers that target functionally relevant biomarkers in high impact disease states.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s41181-020-00110-z

    View details for PubMedID 33175263

  • Neuroinflammation PET imaging: Current opinion and future directions. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine Jain, P., Chaney, A., Carlson, M. L., Jackson, I. M., Rao, A., James, M. L. 2020


    Neuroinflammation is a pathological hallmark of numerous neurologic diseases. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging enables a non-invasive means to investigate, quantify, and track the spatiotemporal dynamics of various immune cells in living subjects. Translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO)-PET is a technique for detecting glial activation that has yielded valuable clinical data linking neuroinflammation to cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases and has also been used preliminarily as a therapy monitoring tool. However, considerable limitations of TSPO-PET have prompted identification of other more cell-specific and functionally relevant biomarkers. This review analyzes the clinical potential of available and emerging PET biomarkers of innate and adaptive immune responses, with mention of exciting future directions for the field.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.119.229443

    View details for PubMedID 32620705

  • Development of a CD19 PET tracer for detecting B cells in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Journal of neuroinflammation Stevens, M. Y., Cropper, H. C., Lucot, K. L., Chaney, A. M., Lechtenberg, K. J., Jackson, I. M., Buckwalter, M. S., James, M. L. 2020; 17 (1): 275


    B cells play a central role in multiple sclerosis (MS) through production of injurious antibodies, secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and antigen presentation. The therapeutic success of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting B cells in some but not all individuals suffering from MS highlights the need for a method to stratify patients and monitor response to treatments in real-time. Herein, we describe the development of the first CD19 positron emission tomography (PET) tracer, and its evaluation in a rodent model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).Female C57BL/6 J mice were induced with EAE through immunization with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG1-125). PET imaging of naïve and EAE mice was performed 19 h after administration of [64Cu]CD19-mAb. Thereafter, radioactivity in organs of interest was determined by gamma counting, followed by ex vivo autoradiography of central nervous system (CNS) tissues. Anti-CD45R (B220) immunostaining of brain tissue from EAE and naïve mice was also conducted.Radiolabelling of DOTA-conjugated CD19-mAb with 64Cu was achieved with a radiochemical purity of 99% and molar activity of 2 GBq/μmol. Quantitation of CD19 PET images revealed significantly higher tracer binding in whole brain of EAE compared to naïve mice (2.02 ± 0.092 vs. 1.68 ± 0.06 percentage of injected dose per gram, % ID/g, p = 0.0173). PET findings were confirmed by ex vivo gamma counting of perfused brain tissue (0.22 ± 0.020 vs. 0.12 ± 0.003 % ID/g, p = 0.0010). Moreover, ex vivo autoradiography of brain sections corresponded with PET imaging results and the spatial distribution of B cells observed in B220 immunohistochemistry-providing further evidence that [64Cu]CD19-mAb enables visualization of B cell infiltration into the CNS of EAE mice.CD19-PET imaging can be used to detect elevated levels of B cells in the CNS of EAE mice, and has the potential to impact the way we study, monitor, and treat clinical MS.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s12974-020-01880-8

    View details for PubMedID 32948198

  • Radiolabeling and pre-clinical evaluation of a first-in-class CD19 PET Tracer for imaging B cells in multiple sclerosis Stevens, M., Cropper, H., Jackson, I., Chaney, A., Lechtenberg, K., Buckwalter, M., James, M. L. SOC NUCLEAR MEDICINE INC. 2019