Using PET in research
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning has the potential to be a major technical advance in the management of patients with cancer and other diseases, as well as a valuable investigative method for the study of drug action and the development of new therapeutic approaches.
A report by NCRI in 2007 examined the base of PET research in the UK, and its main recommendation was that a coordination function should be established to provide national leadership and ensure that organisations work collaboratively to facilitate PET research.
Three years of funding was provided by NCRI partners (Cancer Research UK, Department of Health, Medical Research Council, Northern Ireland Research and Development Office, Chief Scientist Office, Scotland, and the Welsh Government) to set up an initiative to develop PET research in the UK.
With oversight from a steering committee, three workstreams were established to form the NCRI PET Research Network:
- Trials network and technology development (Prof. Paul Marsden and Lucy Pike, Kings College London)
- Increasing the use of PET in phase 3 oncology trials (Prof. Ken Miles and Dr Hector Rojas, Brighton and Sussex Medical School; Dr Wai Lup Wong, Mount Vernon Hospital)
- Stimulating early phase research using PET (Prof. Fiona Gilbert and Dr Ian Fleming, University of Aberdeen)
This work concluded in 2012:
- A final report of the initiative highlights its achievements, sources of ongoing support, and remaining challenges
- A video for patients explains what a PET scan is, what the process involves and how PET scans may be used in cancer clinical trials
- The full range of publications and resources produced is available at www.ncri-pet.org.uk
Part of the legacy of the PET Research Network is the NCRI PET Core Lab, which provides quality control for clinical trials involving PET. The group is based at St Thomas' Hospital, and accredits sites for participation in PET trials. The Core Lab provides quality control, data transfer and coordination support for researchers, and a Scanning Methodology Panel develops guidance and standards.
Having received interim financial support from NCRI Partners for a transition phase, the aim is for this work to become self-supporting, with costs of using this service built into research grants.
If you are a researcher wishing to use the Core Lab, or a research funder who wants to understand how grantees using this service should plan quality control costs into their applications, you can contact the team at email@example.com
Beyond PET, NCRI has also been exploring whether there are wider needs for coordination in imaging research. An imaging research survey was conducted in 2012 to gather information from the research community, and further scoping work will be undertaken in 2013.