por John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | April 18, 2019
Louisiana’s Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) is adding 20,000 square feet to its premises with the construction of a new Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy (CMIT).
Located in Shreveport, the $14.2 million facility will be home to an assortment of radiopharmaceutical equipment and operations, as well as patient imaging services, and a clinical and translational research program. Leading the program will be executive director Dr. Pradeep K. Garg, a molecular imaging researcher with experience heading programs at Yale, Wake Forest and Duke Universities, and a developer of disease-specific novel radiopharmaceuticals.
"CMIT will purchase a new cyclotron and related equipment such as hot cells, synthesis modules, and a dose dispensing station," Dr. Pradeep K. Garg, executive director of Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy, told HCB News. "New capabilities include increasing the range and variety of radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals."
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“Molecular imaging is an invaluable tool that improves disease diagnosis as well as management and treatment of such diseases as cancer, dementias, and heart disease,” he said in a statement. “Targeted radiopharmaceuticals produced by CMIT will help diagnose diseases more precisely, and accurately and will help physicians in choosing more effective treatment options and guide better outcomes for patients.”
The program is an evolution of BRF’s PET Imaging Center, which opened in 1995 as Louisiana’s first molecular imaging scanning and radiopharmaceutical production facility, and was one of the first full-service, nonacademic centers in the country. It serves more than 46,000 patients, making it one of the most active centers in the Southern U.S.
In addition to adding approximately 25 new skilled jobs, the center will improve access for referring physicians in North Louisiana, East Texas and South Arkansas; enable earlier diagnoses and modified treatments; increase clinical, research and commercialization impacts for the state; and create a pipeline of intellectual properly and novel radiopharmaceutical patents for healthcare startups.
It also is expected to open up research opportunities for radiopharmaceutical and radiochemistry collaborations; drug discovery and development processes; higher education collaborations, including with the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport; preclinical basic science endeavors; and expanded clinical trials.
To assist in construction, the Bayou State has issued a performance-based grant of $1 million to offset the cost of building expenses and medical production equipment. The addition of these devices will enable CMIT to increase its array of novel radiopharmaceuticals for applications in cardiovascular disease; prostate, pancreatic and other cancers; Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias; and hyperinsulinism, among other conditions.
"The world-wide market for novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2024, according to Transparency Market Research," said Garg. "The expanded program at the new CMIT is expected to offer more opportunities for radiopharmaceutical and radiochemistry research collaboration, pre-clinical basic science research and involvement in the drug discovery and development process, which can attract and retain talent. It will also enhance research collaborations with higher educational institutions and expand clinical trial opportunities for patients, bringing cutting edge diagnostic and therapeutic options to patients and improving access for referring physicians in North Louisiana, East Texas and South Arkansas."
The global market for novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals is estimated to reach $7.4 billion by 2024.
BRF, the BRF board and leadership have raised $9.4 million for the project to date. The remaining cost will be raised by private and public sources.
The center is expected to open in 2020.