A novel brain-imaging agent that binds selectively to dopamine transporter molecules promises to open up a window on the functioning of the brain's dopamine system. Dopamine is one of the brain's major neurotransmitters, and is implicated in a very broad array of brain disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, depression, schizophrenia and drug addiction. The new agent, called Trodat, was developed by a team led by Hank F. Kung at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. It has been studied extensively in rats, and is now being investigated in human subjects.Trodat offers significant advantages over other imaging agents used in PET studies, because it has low radioactivity, has a six-hour physical half-life, and is inexpensive. Coupled with single-photon PET imaging, it can provide diagnostic information not attainable by other imaging techniques, including early indications of diseases associated with dopamine changes. Last week, the work was presented the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine's Award for Best Science Paper (1997) at the Joint Congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and the World Federation of Nuclear Medicine and Biology held in Berlin, Germany.—June Kinoshita

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  1. . [99mTc]TRODAT-1: a novel technetium-99m complex as a dopamine transporter imaging agent. Eur J Nucl Med. 1997 Apr;24(4):372-80. PubMed.