PET (Positron Emission Tomography)

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Here at the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre in collaboration with the TRIUMF we have specialized in brain imaging in Parkinson’s disease since 1982. We are especially interested in using PET (positron emission tomography) to study Parkinson’s disease. Using PET radiotracers that target the function of these neurons that are affected in Parkinson’s we continue to learn not only about the onset and progression of disease but it complications; including mood, memory, and sleep issues.

PET differs from CT or MRI imaging in that it allows us to create functional images, for example of blood flow or the transmission of chemical signals in the brain. We have a variety of very specialize PET tracers we use to investigate cellular-communication, gene expression and therapy, neurotransmitter binding and storage, receptor density and occupancy.

Successful studies of this nature have given us significant understanding already about progression of disease, the placebo effect in disease, motor complications, and familial disease. We will continue to focus on these but additionally continue to work towards a better understanding of other components such as mood and memory that are affected in a number of neurodegenerative disorders. The ability to target cell behavior and identify disease pathways holds promise for any number of conditions beyond Parkinson’s disease.