To foster collaboration between groups, evaluate the capacity of the tools, broadcast informations and encourage common protocols in the use of positron emission tomography (PET).
Nearly 30 European centres using positron emission tomography (PET) participated in a collaborative programme which was both methodological and clinical. Instrumentation and radiochemistry intercomparison of techniques, standardizations and protocols led to general agreements allowing comparable results to be obtained. This is particularly important since in the future various centres will work with common clinical protocols. The modelling approach has led also to interesting results in comparing the various methods of measuring cerebral and myocardial blood flow and in studying the effect of tissue heterogeneity on the accuracy of biological parameters estimation.
In neurology and cardiology multicentre studies of fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) metabolism in Alzheimer's disease and of myocardial viability in coronary artery disease were established. The preliminary results obtained demonstrate that a large scale programme at the European level is possible. In psychiatry after an estimation of the European potential, promising research areas were identified in psychopharmacology and brain metabolism. In oncology, which is a field of choice for the emergence of diagnostic tests the efforts were focused on the search for proliferation indicators and on sugar or amino acid metabolism as an estimation of tumour grade severity and response to treatment.
PET is an imaging technique which permits regional in vivo accurate measurement of radiotracers labelled with positrons emitting radioisotopes. Such measurements are required for the quantification of physiological, metabolic or pharmacological parameters in human in normal or pathological situations.
According to the main pathologies which occur in the developed countries (neurological, psychiatric, cardiovascular diseases and cancer) for which no methods except PET allows a non traumatic estimation of cell degeneration (effect of ischemic disorders on progressive degeneration of nerve and cardiac cells, dementia, epilepsy, heart and brain infarction), or cell regeneration (after nerve cell graft, heart transplant) and abnormal cell proliferation (in oncology), it was thought that a concerted programme would have a high impact on the understanding of the outset of these processes and may help to follow their treatment.
In this project a special attention would be paid to the pharmacological approaches since PET also allows pharmacokinetics studies, estimation of interaction of drugs with their specific receptors and as a consequence an improvement in drug design and administration.
However the quality of the results to be expected would be very dependent on the quality of the methodology used by the different participating teams, therefore in addition to the coordination in clinical sciences (neurology, psychiatry, cardiology and oncology) a strong cooperation should take place in instrumentation, radiochemistry and modelling.