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Protea Biosciences & VCU Launch Molecular Imaging Research Partnership


Protea Biosciences, based in Morgantown, has entered into a Collaborative Research Agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University and its Center for Molecular Imaging. The research focuses on the combination of LAESI, Protea’s ex vivo molecular imaging mass spectrometry technology platform, with VCU’s in vivo molecular PET, SPECT and MRI/MRS imaging capabilities, in hopes of developing new methods to better elucidate the molecular basis of cancer, Alzheimer’s and other human disease.

 “We are pleased to form this exciting research collaboration with VCU’s Center for Molecular Imaging”, stated Steve Turner, CEO. He added, “Under the leadership of Dr. Jamal Zweit, VCU has built a world class biomolecular imaging infrastructure and capability”.  He added, “It has been the dream of medical science to be able to obtain data on cellular changes at the molecular level, rapidly, and in tandem with existing imaging screening methods. This research initiative is directed at achieving this goal.”

LAESI (short for Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization) was developed by Protea to rapidly generate imaging profiles of the biomolecules present in cells and tissue sections. The LAESI DP-1000 allows the direct identification of biomolecules in living cells and bacterial colonies, with analysis completed in seconds to minutes. Thus, molecular changes that occur in cells over time can be identified and tracked.

Jamal Zweit, PhD., Director of the VCU Center for Molecular Imaging stated, “We are excited to make this research collaboration with Protea. Our center has established state of the art technical capabilities, including the ability to design and synthesize radiolabeled compounds for PET and MRI Imaging. Our scientific team emphasizes multi-modality imaging, and our applications of imaging, biochemistry, physics and clinical medicine to advance molecular imaging make us uniquely-qualified to undertake this research initiative.“