Research released in the December 15 issue of Science demonstrates nanogram synthesis of radiolabeled glucose analog, fluorodeoxy-glucose (FDG) on Fluidigm's Integrated Fluidic Circuits (IFCs). IFCs are rubber-like chips that incorporate miniature active elements for regulating sequential processes involved in chemical manipulations.
Researchers designed the study around FDG for two reasons: FDG is widely used as a molecular imaging probe in patient diagnosis with positron emission tomography (PET), an estimated two million doses were administered worldwide in 2004, and the multi-step process for preparing FDG serves as a proof of concept for the use of IFCs to prepare a diversity of other compounds at the nanogram scale.
Synthesizing FDG is challenging because the half-life of the radio-fluorine is only 110 minutes, which strictly limits the time for synthesizing and labeling glucose and then administering it to a patient.
Currently, FDG is synthesized using large volumes and masses of reactants with bulky and expensive electromechanic devices, requiring synthesis times of about 50 minutes. With Fluidigm's IFCs, FDG may be prepared at the nanogram scale on a chip; thus reactions are more efficient and synthesis is reduced to approximately 15 minutes, leaving a wider margin of time for clinical use.
The requirements of expedited chemical kinetics and low-mass quantities of chemical reactants, together with the emerging need to expand, and diversify the catalog of molecular imaging probes, provide a unique opportunity for Fluidigm's IFC technology, according to the authors of the paper.
The efficiencies gained through the use of IFCs, rather than traditional instruments, may allow imaging techniques such as PET to be deployed more broadly at research universities, medical centers and pharmaceutical companies.
IFC-based synthesis creates opportunities for the labeling of biochemicals that previously have been available in insufficient quantities and for the study of new drugs in vivo. For example, tiny amounts of radiolabeled compounds could be administered to mice to study their distribution within tissues. Only compounds with optimal tissue and disease target characteristics would be scaled up for clinical trials.