PET Imaging Reveals the Immune System at Work

November 14, 2005 | Source: KurzweilAI

Researchers at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at the University of California Los Angeles have taken a key step toward noninvasively viewing how a cell confronts disease by using positron emission tomography (PET) to observe key cells of the immune system as they responded to tumors in mice.

In their experiments, they were able to see the lymph nodes, which resided at some distance from the tumor, spring into action.

The new approaches can now be applied to “visualize immune cell expansion and activation [and] can be used for the evaluation and development of immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases,” according to research team leader Owen N. Witte, writing in the November 15, 2005 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One intriguing possibility, according to Witte, is that these techniques could be turned to the study of autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly identifies native cells or tissues as foreign and mounts an attack.

Source: HHMI news release.