PET/CT scanning improves diagnostic potential of experimental tuberculosis

20 November 2016

BPRC - 1. PET/CT scanning improves diagnostic potential of experimental tuberculosis

At present we are implementing a novel integrated PET/CT scanner for refinement and enhancement of our experimental TB research capacity. In this endeavour BPRC is supported by the so-called Collaboration for Tuberculosis Vaccine Discovery (CTVD), an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and specifically also by the expert team of Prof. Dr. Flynn at the University of Pittsburgh (PA, USA), who pioneered the use PET/CT in NHP TB research.

In the context of a work programme of the TBVAC2020 Consortium, a project funded by the European Commission (EC Horizon2020) and governed by the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initative (TBVI), we have been able to generate first images of experimental lung TB twelve weeks after a very low dose infection with less than 10 culturable mycobacterial units, using this PET/CT imaging platform.

The camera that we used here is based on the novel, portable Large Field-of-View, Extreme Resolution (LFER 150) scanner, that has been developed by Mediso Medical Imaging Systems. While the new platform undergoes further optimisation, this pilot image (see below) illustrates that this semi-invasive technique allows to visualise TB-associated pathology by 3-dimensional X-ray (computer tomography, CT) and the associated inflammatory host response by Positron Emission Tomography (PET), using 18fluor-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) as a radiotracer.

Eventually, we aim to register at high resolution the dynamics of pathology and host inflammation as a powerful readout of experimental infection over time. To this end, we will continue our efforts and collaborations in support of basic and applied research towards a better understanding of the mechanisms of TB disease, protective immunity and the development of improved therapies against this continuing infectious threat to global health.


Co-registration of TB pathology (by CT) and host inflammation (PET) in the lower left lung lobe, 12 weeks after a low dose infectious challenge of a rhesus macaque with less than 10 culturable mycobacteria.