Today's journal club article isn't really an actual research paper, but more of a 'where are we now and where are we going' type of article written by a prominent nuclear medicine physicist, Simon Cherry. It comes from the November issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. The article is The 2006 Henry N. Wagner Lecture: Of Mice and Men (and Positrons)—Advances in PET Imaging Technology (J Nucl Med 2006 47: 1735-1745)
By far the most interesting part of Cherry's article is where he looks forward to the future of PET imaging and raises the idea of PET/MRI imaging and whole-body PET/MRI imaging.. Rather than using conventional photomultiplier tubes, which would be rendered useless by the magnetic field from the MRI unit, the scintillation light would be detected by avalanche photodiodes. Very tantalizing possibilities indeed.
There have been major advances in PET technology that cumulatively have helped improve image quality, increased the range of applications for PET, and contributed to the more widespread use of PET. Examples of these technologic advances include whole-body imaging, 3-dimensional imaging, new scintillator materials, iterative reconstruction algorithms, combined PET/CT, and preclinical PET. New advances on the immediate horizon include the reintroduction of time-of-flight PET, which takes advantage of the favorable timing properties of newer scintillators; the integration of PET and MRI scanners into a dual-modality imaging system; and the possibility of further significant improvements in spatial resolution in preclinical PET systems. Sensitivity remains a limiting factor in many PET studies. Although, conceptually, huge gains in sensitivity are still possible, realizing these gains is thwarted largely by economic rather than scientific concerns. Predicting the future is fraught with difficulty; nonetheless, it is apparent that ample opportunities remain for new development and innovation in PET technology that will be driven by the demands of molecular medicine, notably sensitive and specific molecular diagnostic tools and the ability to quantitatively monitor therapeutic entities that include small molecules, peptides, antibodies, nanoparticles, DNA/RNA, and cells.