Lapi Group at University of Alabama at Birmingham

Examples of research projects in the Lapi Lab include: 


1. Development of New Isotopes for Biological Tracers and Imaging Studies

Production and Separation of 52Mn

This nuclide is currently being used for several studies including investigation of the intrinsic biological pathways and toxicity of manganese; 2) the assessment of 52Mn as a long-lived PET radionuclide for radiotracer development; and 3) characterization of potential manganese magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents. In particular, groups at Washington University and elsewhere have been studying manganese toxicity in welders and other at risk groups. The importance of these investigations into the pathway of manganese as a neurotoxin makes accessing 52Mn a high priority as a radiotracer for basic science. Additionally, with the recent increase of interest in PET/MRI and new developments in manganese MR agents, 52Mn is well suited to assist in the characterization of the next generation of multimodality tracers.   We have recently published a paper on the production of this isotope (see publications tab).



2. Development of Zr-89 Radiopharmaceuticals

Radiometals have historically played a dominate role in the field of nuclear medicine. While radiometal isotopes such as 99mTc and 111In have played a major role in the development of SPECT agents, radiometal isotopes for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging are becoming more widely used as PET imaging matures as a technique.  In particular, the longer lived PET isotopes such as 64Cu and 89Zr are gaining notice as radiolabels for non-invasively imaging the biodistribution of antibodies, peptides and nanoparticles.  These pharmaceutical agents accumulate at the target site slowly; therefore longer-lived isotopes are required to optimize target issue accumulation and for reduction of background uptake. 

The use of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) as molecular targets for tumor cells is a very rapidly expanding pharmaceutical area and 89Zr (t1/2 = 3.3 d) is ideally matched to image the biodistribution of intact antibodies (immunoPET).  MAbs are produced for selective targeting of tumor cells and intended for use as therapeutics, either alone or conjugated to additional therapeutic drugs.  Thus, immuno-PET is an attractive non-invasive tool for patient screening, assessing target expression, antibody accumulation in tumor lesions and normal tissues and in vivo mAb characterization.  The success of preclinical results has facilitated in-human investigations of 89Zr labeled antibodies.  As an example, in addition to other imaging projects, our group has focused on the use of radiolabeled Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab for imaging of HER2 expression in preclinical models and more recently, in a clinical trial.    







3. Isotope Harvesting from Heavy Ion Beam Facilities

Recently, isotope harvesting from heavy ion accelerator facilities has been suggested.  The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) will be a new national user facility for nuclear science to be completed at Michigan State University in 2020.   Radioisotopes could be produced by dedicated runs by primary users or may be collected synergistically from the water in cooling-loops for the primary beam dump that cycle the water at flow rates in excess of hundreds of gallons per minute.   A liquid water target system for harvesting radioisotopes at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) was designed and constructed as the initial step in proof-of-principle experiments to harvest useful radioisotopes in this manner.  This project is a collaboration with Hope College, MI and Michigan State University.