Research: Scientists developed a novel radiotracer for the earlier detection of diseases

The utilisation of fructose by cells for energy may now be mapped, thanks to a novel radiotracer termed [18F]4-FDF, which was created by researchers at the University of Ottawa (uOttawa). Another form of metabolic fuel that is becoming more well-acknowledged as a fuel for illness is fructose. Known as “fruit sugar,” fructose is a monosaccharide that is often used in diets and is naturally present in fruit, honey, and processed foods.

Contrary to glucose, fructose is mostly found in healthy liver and kidneys and is not often utilised as fuel by the heart and brain in good condition. [18F]4-FDF will enable early identification of a variety of disorders, including malignancies, as well as inflammation of the heart and brain by determining where fructose is being utilised in the body.

Together with uOttawa academics Robert Ben and Christina Addison, the research was carried out at the Molecular Medicine Lab under the direction of Associate Professor Adam Shuhendler from the Faculty of Science at Ottawa.

Shuhendler is also a scientist at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. PhD candidate in biology Alexia Kirby served as the lead author and was in charge of testing and validating the radiotracer in a variety of animal and cell models. PhD candidate in chemistry and biomolecular sciences Nicholas Calvert employed carbon isotope labelling to ascertain the radiotracer’s metabolic pathway in cells. Coworkers Rob Ben, Thomas Charlton, and Mojmir Suchy created the synthetic chemistry, and Mojmir Suchy and Dominic Graf handled the radiochemistry.

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For the first time, we can see where fructose, a common dietary sugar, is used in the body. Outside of the kidneys and the liver, fructose metabolism in any other organs may point to a sinister problem including cancer and inflammation.

Professor Shuhendler

Researchers can monitor the location and amount of fructose metabolization in human bodies by using the [18F]4-FDF molecule, which is derived from a precisely altered version of fructose that includes a radioactive fluorine atom at a crucial chemical position. Using a PET camera a diagnostic imaging equipment frequently used observers may detect the elevated fructose used by organs and tissues that aren’t working properly, which can give early signs of inflammation.

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This finding creates new opportunities for the early diagnosis and treatment of cardiac and brain disorders as well as cancer.

Source: University of Ottawa News

Journal Reference: Kirby, Alexia, et al. “It’sa Trap! Aldolase-Prescribed C4 Deoxyradiofluorination Affords Intracellular Trapping and the Tracing of Fructose Metabolism by PET.” Journal of Nuclear Medicine (2024). DOI:

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