How a PET Can Save Your Heart Interview with:


Dr. Taylor

Robert Taylor, MD, PhD
Marcus Chair in Vascular Medicine
Executive Vice Chair, Medicine
Director, Division of Cardiology
Professor of Medicine and
Biomedical Engineering
Emory University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The early identification and localization of bacterial infections is a critical step for initiating effective treatment.   This is particularly challenging in the setting of infections associated with implanted medical devices.  We have developed a highly specific probe for bacteria that is based on the fact that bacteria have a specific system for taking up maltodextrins which are polysaccharides that mammalian cells cannot take up directly.  We can label this probe with either a fluorescent of radioactive tag that allows visualization of the bacteria.

In the current article, we have used an animal model of implantable cardiac devices to demonstrate that our probe is very specific and sensitive for detecting bacterial infections.  It is worth noting that these are subclinical infections that could not be detected by any other means except for surgical removal. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We have developed a novel way to image bacteria in vivo.  If successful in humans, this approach could add a new approach to the way that we diagnose and manage infections of many types in our patients.  These imaging probes may be particularly beneficial in the setting of infections associated with implanted medical devices. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We are currently moving towards first-in-man studies to demonstrate feasibility in humans.  This study may not focus on cardiac devices but instead, will focus on the more common problem of infections associated with orthopedic implants.  There is also ongoing research in our laboratories looking at other infections including endocarditis. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: The work was funded by the NIH and the American Heart Association.  Drs. Taylor, Goodman, Murthy, and Takemiya all hold either equity interest in Microbial Medical Inc, which is commercializing this technology and/or are in a position to receive licensing revenue through their respective universities. 


Novel PET and Near Infrared Imaging Probes for the Specific Detection of Bacterial Infections Associated With Cardiac Devices
Kiyoko Takemiya, MD, PhD et al
JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Available online 18 April 2018

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Last Updated on April 26, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD