Novel Radiotracer Development


The Chin group researches and develops novel imaging agents and therapeutics with a focus on PET (Positron Emission Tomography) imaging.  Located within the Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Facility at Stanford, we are involved in the arc of drug development all the way from research on the benchtop to translational first-in-human clinical studies, primarily using radiolabeled 18F and 11C tracers. 

Members of our group are a part of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) and the Translational Radiopharmaceutical Sciences and Chemical Engineering Research (TRACER) for Molecular Imaging Program.  The breadth of our collaborations extend beyond these programs throughout the School of Medicine as well as with groups at several other universities and companies.  

Glioblastoma Imaging and Grading with Novel Smart Probes 

Current imaging tools for glioblastomas are non-targeted and can show us where the tumor is located, but tell us little about the molecular biology behind the disease. Therefore, we aim to develop a smart probe that becomes activated upon enzymatic cleavage by furin, a serine endoprotease that is upregulated in glioblastomas. Furin is directly correlated with increased cancer aggressiveness due to its role in degrading the extracellular matrix which promotes intravasation and tumor metastasis. We want to exploit the overexpression of furin to obtain targeted, low-background tumor images and evaluate the extent of enzymatic activity in different glioma grades.

Sigma-1 Receptor Imaging and Targeting

We develop novel PET (Positron Emission Tomography) imaging agents in MIPS and alongside collaborators in academia and the pharmaceutical industry.  Our group focus is primarily on cancer biology and gene therapy, though we also work on the discovery and design of candidate probes for molecular targets in the brain. In conjunction with our state-of-the-art imaging facility, promising candidates are evaluated by PET-CT/MR imaging in small animals prior to human studies. Successful radioligands and/or radiotracers are extended towards future human clinical applications. 

Investigating Autism Spectrum Disorder through GABAa Receptor Physiology

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability.  In this project, we aim to compare the brain distribution of GABAa receptors and GABA levels in young adult humans (age 21-28) with FXS and idiopathic intellectual disability by utilizing hybrid [18F]-Flumazenil-PET-MRS.

Clinical Trials

The breadth of our interests and those of Stanford faculty and outside collaborators support the routine radiochemistry production of many existing radiotracers for human use and research.  Our routine clinical tracers are synthesized in custom-made and commercial synthetic modules (i.e. GE TRACERlab modules) housed in lead-shielded cells and be distributed manually or automatically (i.e. Comecer Dorothea) to our imagers.  Our numerous radiotracers are used for a variety of PET imaging protocols including the diagnosis, monitoring, and staging of cancer.