In addition to the production of routine radiopharmaceuticals, we also focus on research. This entails the production of research tracers (for instance 11C-Raclopride en 11C-PIB) for imaging centers in the vicinity and for specific research projects.
Radboudumc’s Preclincial Imaging Center (PRIME) is located a stone’s throw away from our facility and is available for small animal studies. The collaboration with Radboudumc provides access to preclinical and clinical expertise and facilitates the execution of projects in a wide range of medical fields, like neurology, psychiatry, geriatrics, oncology and cardiology. RTM can help to establish contacts with these research groups and to develop new tailor-made tracers for said projects
Brain drugs: the pros and cons
Professor Roshan Cools is doing research on cognitive control, an important brain function that ensures we are not too easily distracted if we have set ourselves specific goals. Some people try to increase this control by taking medicines such as Ritalin or Concerta, but it is not totally clear whether these substances really enhance cognitive performance or what their effects are on thinking. There are even indications that they actually reduce certain cognitive functions such as creativity.
We see differences between individuals, but the effects also seem to depend on the situation in which the medicines are used. To determine these effects more precisely, a better insight is needed into the way in which dopamine influences the neurocognitive mechanisms involved in cognitive control. The consequences are unclear. This project investigates the pros and cons of using dopamine in terms of the brain functions important for both optimal cognitive control and creative thinking. Radboud Translational Medicine will supply the 18F-FDOPA used for the patient scans.
From cognitive neurochemistry to personalized psychiatry
Dopaminergic drugs are increasingly used for cognitive enhancement. However, there is large variability in the response to dopaminergic drugs across different individuals, so that a considerable proportion of people actually exhibits detrimental side effects rather than cognitive enhancement after drug intake. The objective of this study by professor Roshan Cools is to unravel key neurochemical factors that predict who will benefit and who will be impaired by the commonly administered dopaminergic drug methylphenidate.
Expertise in cognitive neuroscience, psychopharmacology, nuclear medicine and radiochemistry will be combined using positron emission tomography (PET) for measuring dopamine in humans. Specifically, the prediction of dopaminergic drug effects on cognition from baseline levels of presynaptic dopamine functioning is investigated, using the presence of our cyclotron facility (once again with 18F-FDOPA) to investigate which of two key presynaptic factors best predicts methylphenidate’s effects on cognition.