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  • 03/07/18

    Tracers in PET scans may aid in early detection of bacterial infections

Professor Pierre receives two-year collaborative grant for research

Professor Valerie Pierre and co-investigator Timothy DeGrado, Ph.D., are one of five collaborative teams to receive 2018 grants from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics. DeGrado is from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester with research interests in molecular imaging for research and clinical diagnostics. Pierre and DeGrado's research project, "PET Agents for in Vivo Imaging of Bacterial Infections," focuses on early identification of bacterial infections. Currently, it is difficult to identify infections simply by scanning them in the body. Pierre and DeGrado want to develop tracer technology to change that. The objective is to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to confirm and diagnose bacterial infections early on to improve treatment and patient recovery. Ultimately, the goal is to develop and commercialize the technology for widespread use.

In addition to bacterial infections, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and colorectal cancer are the targets of the research awards. This marks the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomic’s 15th year of spearheading new scientific ideas from Minnesota to improve health care for Minnesotans. The state-funded grants for these team science proposals total just under $5 million. The funding for this year’s research projects includes partial support from an additional annual $500,000 allocation from the Minnesota Legislature for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The five teams will initiate collaborative two-year projects that could transform the treatment of diseases that affect Minnesotans. All projects are selected on the basis of quality science, relevance of the medical need of the topic, and potential of commercialization. Each team includes investigators from Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota. Projects must be truly collaborative ─ something that could not be pursued by either institution alone.

Additional information about the research projects is available from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics.