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Manchester Scores Cancer Imaging Coup

16 Aug 2007

The University of Manchester's Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre (WMIC) has appointed a world-renowned cancer imaging specialist Professor Juri Gelovani to develop new tracers for the study and treatment of a wide variety of tumours.

The University of Manchester's Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre (WMIC) has appointed a world-renowned cancer imaging specialist Professor Juri Gelovani to develop new tracers for the study and treatment of a wide variety of tumours.

Professor Gelovani heads the molecular imaging department at MD Anderson, Texas, in the United States, which has an extensive programme for the development of tracers.

His collaboration with the WMIC will involve clinical-translational studies to explore the use of several new tracers which have shown promise for studying tumour proliferation and infiltration.  One of Professor Gelovani's first projects at the WMIC will involve the development of new fluorine-18 labelled tracers for studying brain tumour activity.  It is thought that these tracers will provide substantially better scan contrast for grading of malignancy than current techniques and will have a great potential for future clinical use. 

The WMIC is licensed for the synthesis of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) research tracer products manufactured in their GMP clean room facility. Its research projects will provide more accurate diagnosis of illness and contribute to new treatments for cancer and brain disorders.

Professor Gelovani will also work closely with the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC). The MCRC will be one of the world's leading cancer research centres by 2015 and its development is gathering momentum as it attracts new research group leaders and significant blocks of funding. The WMIC's facilities and expertise will greatly enhance the MCRC's abilities to achieve its goals.

Professor Gelovani received his medical degree and PhD from the University of Tartu in Estonia before moving to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, where he was made Associate Professor of Neurology and Radiology in 1998.  Professor Gelovani moved to The MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas in 2003 to take up his current post of Professor of Radiology and Neurology and is now also the Director of the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research.

Professor Gelovani said: "It is with great pleasure that I have accepted the offer to join the University of Manchester.  I am sure that this will be a great opportunity to combine the strengths of our two institutions and contribute to the development of the University's oncology imaging research program".

Professor Karl Herholz, Director of the WMIC, said: "The WMIC is undergoing an important phase of expansion as we build our oncology research portfolio and stengthen our links with the Christie Hospital.  We are delighted to welcome Juri to the WMIC at this exciting time in our development and look forward to working with him and his colleagues from MD Anderson on the development of new tracers for clinical use in cancer."

For more information or to arrange an interview with Professor Juri Gelovani contact Media Relations Officer Mikaela Sitford on 0161 275 2111 or


Editor's Note:

PET technology involves the creation of high resolution images of internal biological processes through the injection of trace amounts of a radioactive compound (or radiotracer) into the subject. The radioactive (positron) emission escapes easily from the body and is recorded by an array of external detectors. The resulting data is then processed by sophisticated computer software to create high resolution dynamic images depicting the body's internal organs and biological processes. Under the Manufacturer's Specials (MS) license, researchers within the Centre are now able to use more complex radiotracers for injection into human subjects.  These include Carbon-11 (11C) products which have to be manufactured under sterile conditions, and include the tracer PK11195 which currently being used in a ongoing study of inflammation of the central nervous system and stroke risk*. The license, however, is not limited to producing 11C products and allows the manufacture of various compounds for use in other PET studies.  They will allow measuring a broad range of molecular events, including specific receptors that stimulate tumour growth or initiate cell death, neurotransmitters and their receptors in the brain that are altered in psychosis or are active in chronic pain, as well as the effects of drugs to specifically treat these diseases.

The Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre (WMIC) was established with initial funding from research sponsors and charitable and commercial organisations, including The Wolfson Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the MRC, the EPSRC, the NWDA, the ERDF, Children with Leukaemia and a number of significant individuals. WMIC is cooperating closely with Christie Hospital for Oncology, and with Wythenshawe and Hope Hospitals for Psychiatry and Neurology projects. The Centre works with multiple research groups in an open structure which epitomises its interdisciplinary approach.

The Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) brings together The University of Manchester, Christie Hospital NHS Trust and Cancer Research UK to build on Manchester's outstanding reputation for cancer research and treatment. Its goal is to expand its understanding of cancer and quickly translate that knowledge into better and more specific therapies which will benefit patients. In bringing together the expertise across the partner organisations, and significantly adding to and enhancing its research activity, the MCRC will create a world-class cancer research centre which will help to save many more lives.

The University of Manchester ( is the largest higher education institution in the country, with 24 academic schools and around 36 000 students. 

Its Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences ( is one of the largest faculties of clinical and health sciences in Europe, with a research income of around £51 million (almost a third of the University's total research income).  It is comprised of Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Psychological Sciences, representing a diverse portfolio of the highest-quality teaching and research activity. The Faculty is a key stakeholder in the Greater Manchester Research Alliance, is affliated to five teaching hospitals and closely linked to general hospitals and community practices across the North West of England.