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TED-Ed video: why do hospitals have particle accelerators?


Gordon Center Assistant Professor Pedro Brugarolas collaborated with TED-Ed to explain the science behind how doctors use radioactive drugs and PET scans to detect and diagnose diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

50 Years of PET Imaging History Meets the Future


Inside the room sits a sleek white machine, recognizable as a large medical imaging scanner. Computer monitors in the control room look out upon the scanner. Outside the room sits a seemingly less-familiar, less hi-tech object. It looks like a blue hula hoop – with one half sitting inside a copper stand and a glowstick-like object attached to the outer curve of the hoop – on wheels. A sign hanging from it reads: “Physics Research.”

PET Tech from the past: The D-electrode of the original cyclotron at the MGH

The copper stand – known as a D-electrode or "Dee" – was used in the first MGH cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator used to create radioactive particles needed for positron emission tomography (PET). The blue hoop represents the protons accelerated in a circle within the cyclotron. Fifty years ago, that Dee was a central part of the new technology. Upon his retirement, Gordon Brownell, PhD, was given the D-electrode in appreciation for his work in establishing the MGH as the world leader in PET. It was fitting that this integral historical piece was on display during an April 13 ribbon-cutting celebrating the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging’s opening of a new imaging suite in the Edwards Building and the launch of its GE-Discovery MI PET/CT dedicated for research. “We are very excited about the new research PET/CT scanner located proximate to the cyclotron and radiochemistry labs in the Edwards Basement,” said James Brink, MD, MGH radiologist-in-chief. “Through the GE-MGH research collaboration that made this possible, we expect to further advance our understanding of health and disease with molecular imaging.” The day-long celebration included opening remarks by Brink and his predecessor, James Thrall, MD, followed by presentations highlighting the history and advances in imaging technology at the MGH Gordon Center. The event also was attended by John Flannery, GE CEO, and O’Neil Britton, MD, MGH chief medical officer and senior vice president. “Fifty years after the installation of the first cyclotron at MGH, the Gordon Center perpetuates the PET imaging research tradition of the hospital with the support of two generations of researchers including some of the earliest pioneers who are still working at our center,” said Georges El Fakhri, PhD, director of the Gordon Center.

The cyclotron 50th anniversary included the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the GE Discovery PET/CT dedicated for research at the MGH Gordon Center.

From left to right: Charles Stearns, Chief Engineer PET at GE Healthcare, Maurizio Fava, Director, Division of Clinical Research of the MGH Research Institute, Michael Fisher, Director, MGH Research Space Management Group, Jae Lee, Executive Director of Radiology at MGH, John Flannery, CEO and chairman of General Electric, James Brink, chief of the MGH Department of Radiology, Georges El Fakhri, Director of the MGH Gordon Center.

FDA Approves First Use of Tracer-QC at Gordon Center


Daniel Yokell working at the PET production facility of the MGH Gordon Center

Radiopharmaceutical company Trace-Ability, Inc. announced that the FDA has approved the first use of its solution, Tracer-QC, for release testing Ammonia N-13 Injection at the MGH Gordon Center PET Core. Tracer-QC automates the positron emission tomography (PET) tracer release testing process, which the company says is known for its complexity.

“Despite the clear value of Tracer-QC confirmed by PET drug manufacturers, there has been some reluctance to adopt the technology due to its fundamental novelty and lack of precedent with the FDA,” Arkadij Elizarov, CEO of Trace-Ability, said in a prepared statement. “We appreciate the eagerness with which the MGH team participated in this project, which led to the first FDA approval of Tracer-QC use today.”

“Our goal is to help the industry transition to a more streamlined PET drug production and quality control workflow," Daniel Yokell, associate director for radiopharmacy and regulatory affairs at the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging at MGH, said in the same statement. “In turn we can hopefully expand patient access to these critical diagnostic procedures outside of large academic medical centers.”

Three Research Fellows promoted to Instructor


We are pleased to announce that three Research Fellows in the Gordon Center have been promoted to the title of Instructor. Congratulations to Kai Bao, Fangxu Xing, and Gengyang Yuan!

Research Agreement Signed with Cerveau Technologies


Cerveau Technologies Inc. signed an agreement with the MGH Gordon Center to support multiple projects over the next several years. These research projects are for studies of an early stage imaging agent (MK-6240) to be used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans for assessing the status and progression of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the brain. NFTs made up of aggregated tau protein are a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

As part of the agreement, Cerveau will contract with the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, a research center and PET imaging facility within MGH, to manufacture and supply the [18F]MK-6240 needed for initiatives in the greater Boston area. “We are glad to be part of the effort to make Tau PET available to the New England research community as it is becoming a tool of choice for in vivo assessment of tau pathology in many brain disorders,” said Dr. Georges El Fakhri, Director of the MGH Gordon Center.

According to Dr. Keith Johnson, leader of the Aging NeuroImaging Program at the MGH Gordon Center, and the Harvard Aging Brain Study, “the ability to detect tau brain pathology in living humans is a major medical breakthrough. The value of this novel technology has already been demonstrated to improve the likelihood we can develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, however, brain tau deposition is a major player in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, fronto-temporal dementia, and several forms of Parkinsonism. This means that successful research program initiatives for novel radio-pharmaceuticals such as MK6240 are an important advance toward refinement and optimization of tau PET, which is the rapidly developing biomarker technology aimed at tracking tau pathology in a variety of brain disorders.”

“Cerveau welcomes this opportunity to work with the MGH researchers, who have a very successful history of leadership in this field to understand the application of MK-6240 and how it may benefit patients with brain diseases. The collaboration with the Gordon Center at MGH will also provide access to our pharmaceutical partners in support of various therapy trials and support our global production network in Europe, Canada, Japan, China, Singapore, Australia and the United States as well facilitate novel research at MGH in the pursuit of evaluating potential preventive treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rick Hiatt, President and CEO of Cerveau Technologies, Inc.

Read more: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180208005974/en

Brain PET scan

2018 Gordon Center Winter Holiday Party


A warm thank you to everyone who joined us for our winter holiday party.

2018 Human Amyloid Imaging Conference


The 12th Human Amyloid Imaging Conference took place in Miami, Florida on January 17-19, 2018.

Dr. Keith Johnson organized the event with the help of Drs. Bill Klunk (University of Pittsburgh), Chet Mathis (University of Pittsburgh) and Bill Jagust (University of California, Berkeley).

This year’s conference featured two cross-disciplinary keynote speakers: Drs. William Seeley (University of California, San Francisco) and Peter Davies (Northwell Health). They discussed what the presence of brain amyloid means, how it should be measured, how it changes, and what it signifies.

The 2018 meeting included podium and poster presentations on cutting edge research into biomarkers for Alzheimer’s-related disease. It drew more than 400 attendees and showcased 130 posters from research groups spanning North America, Europe, East Asia, and Australia.

For more information, please see the Human Amyloid Imaging Conference website.

Poster Presentations at the 2018 Human Amyloid Imaging Conference

Annual Holiday Party


Thank you to everyone who made it out to our annual holiday party. Take a look at the gallery below for some of the highlights of the evening.