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BRF expands PET imaging center - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

BRF expands PET imaging center

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

Some major expansions are in the works for the Biomedical Research Foundation.

Twenty years ago they opened the first PET imaging center in the state of Louisiana. Now they're bringing in cutting edge scientists to further build on that legacy.
 
Behind eight feet of concrete sits the BRF's cyclotron. Built twenty years ago, it's the machine that makes the radioactive drugs that are used in the PET scanner. 

"Twenty to thirty years ago, when they were designing these things, they were held together with duct tape and bubble gum and so you needed the technical support to keep the center operational and move forward," said medical physicist Stephen Lokitz.

They've come a long way since then. 

The state just granted the BRF $1.5 million to buy a brand new cyclotron to go with the new PET scanner.

It's a move that has attracted a pair of top radio chemists to make the transition from Wake Forest University to Shreveport.

Pradeep and Sudha Garg will be at the forefront of PET imaging research with the BRF.
 
"Our plan is to make our resources accessible to our colleagues in other institutes, like neighboring schools. Our interest to collaborate goes beyond that though. We want to reach out to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and other states," said Pradeep Garg.

The technology they're working on includes new drugs to be used in PET imaging.
 
With the scanner, they are able to take a physiological snapshot of what's going on inside a patient's body.
 
For example, after a patient is injected with radioactive drugs made by the cyclotron the pet scanner cameras can detect live cancer cells. 

"I don't think it's a gamble but they've really seen the power of personalized medicine. This can lead to very early diagnosis. I really think we're on the verge of an explosion of radio pharmaceuticals that Pradeep and Sudha are developing," said Lokitz.

The BRF is also on the verge of centralizing and expanding all PET imaging technology and lab work by building a brand new imaging center. 

Though an exact location has not been decided quite yet, it will be as close to LSU and University Health campus as possible.

"We want to make a place where as patients come in they know as they come out of the car that this is the place where they want to get treated and diagnosed. It will be state of the art having all different modalities under one umbrella," said Garg.

The new imaging center should be completed within 18-24 months. 

The expansion should bring around 35 new jobs to the BRF.
 
Since the BRF brought in the first PET scanner to Shreveport, they have performed more than 35,000 scans with over $18 million in free scans to underprivileged patients.

Over the years, more than $53 million has been invested in PET imaging to introduce and support new clinical technology and radio pharmaceutical manufacturing.  

 

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