Congratulations to Gjertrud Laurell who has been granted a 1-year introduction stipend from the Research Council at Rigshospitalet for the project 'Development of novel methods for quantification of drug interactions in the living human brain'.

Summary of Gjertrud's 1-year project:
Developing drugs for treatment of brain disorders is challenging, time consuming and costly. PET neuroimaging has evolved as a useful tool for investigating the interactions between a drug and its target receptor in the human brain. Although PET is frequently used for drug development, the experimental framework and methodologies used to analyze the acquired data are inefficient, often leading to biased outcomes and high variability. With improved analytical techniques it will be possible to modify the experimental setup so that the number of PET scans can be reduced without sacrificing statistical power.

Current analytical tools require that at least two scans, one at baseline and one after administration of the drug, are acquired for each research subject. We aim to improve the utility of PET for drug development by establishing methods that enable within-scan challenges, in which the drug is administered during an ongoing scan. Such a setup circumvents the issue of biological fluctuations between scans, while also reducing costs and lowering the total radiation exposure. However, in order to employ this experimental design a new class of pharmacokinetic models must be developed, because current models are adequate only for separate scans. In this project, we plan to develop new mathematical models that describe the pharmacokinetics of the PET ligand before, during and after administration of a drug competing for the same receptor. We will validate these models using simulation experiments and real PET data.