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A Novel PET Imaging Agent for Diagnosing Bacterial Infections
A PET tracer, [18F]F-PABA which is taken up only by bacterial cells thus making it specific for diagnosing infection.
Please note, header image is purely illustrative. Source: Jens Maus, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


Bacterial infections such as those of prosthetic joints, bones (osteomyelitis) and heart valves (infective endocarditis) are difficult to diagnose and treat, and are a major cause of mortality, morbidity and health care costs. PET is a promising, non-invasive imaging technique for detecting and localizing infections in humans. Most of the current PET studies rely on FDG, however, this tracer lacks specificity since it can be taken up by host inflammatory cells as well as bacterial cells at the site of infection. Consequently, there is a need to develop sensitive and specific PET radiotracers that can identify bacterial infections.


Stony Brook University researchers have synthesized and examined a novel PET tracer, [18F]F-PABA which, (unlike FDG) is taken up only by bacterial cells thus making it specific for diagnosing infection (Figure). In addition, the inventors have also identified a novel chemical synthesis method for high radiochemical yield of [18F]F-PABA. Given the specificity of [18F]F-PABA to differentiate between the bacterial infection from sterile inflammation, coupled with high yield synthesis method to produce this tracer, this technology offers an excellent tool in the space of bacterial infections diagnostics. Second generation tracers are currently under development that show improved specificity and sensitivity.


- PET tracer that differentiates bacterial infection from sterile inflammation - Readily synthesized with high radiochemical yield - High signal-to-noise ratio - Quantify bacterial burden - Applicable for many bacterial infections


- Infectious diseases - Diagnostics - PET imaging - Radiotracers


Peter Tonge, Professor, Chemistry
Zhuo Zhang, Student,
Peter Smith-Jones, Professor, Psychiatry
Hui Wang, Student,
Li Liu, Research Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Licensing Contact

Valery Matthys, Licensing Associate, Intellectual Property Partners,,

Patent Status

Patent application submitted

PCT application (PCT/US17/50248)

Tech Id