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Radiochemical Approaches to Imaging Bacterial Infections: Intracellular versus Extracellular Targets

  • northrup, justin d.
  • mach, robert h.
  • sellmyer, mark a.
Publication Date
Nov 19, 2019
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The discovery of penicillin began the age of antibiotics, which was a turning point in human healthcare. However, to this day, microbial infections are still a concern throughout the world, and the rise of multidrug-resistant organisms is an increasing challenge. To combat this threat, diagnostic imaging tools could be used to verify the causative organism and curb inappropriate use of antimicrobial drugs. Nuclear imaging offers the sensitivity needed to detect small numbers of bacteria in situ. Among nuclear imaging tools, radiolabeled antibiotics traditionally have lacked the sensitivity or specificity necessary to diagnose bacterial infections accurately. One reason for the lack of success is that the antibiotics were often chelated to a radiometal. This was done without addressing the ramifications of how the radiolabeling would impact probe entry to the bacterial cell, or the mechanism of binding to an intracellular target. In this review, we approach bacterial infection imaging through the lens of bacterial specific molecular targets, their intracellular or extracellular location, and discuss radiochemistry strategies to guide future probe development.

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