The Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) is a dedicated research center with expertise in conducting research studies and preclinical and human multimodal hybrid clinical trials using positron emission tomography (PET) to test new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

PET and MRI are complementary imaging modalities. Their combination provides unique research opportunities because PET has an excellent molecular sensitivity and MRI has excellent soft-tissue contrast and unique versatility. The clinical value of PET-MRI is reflected in an increasing availability of hybrid PET-MRI scanners. However, these highly specialized instruments are available at only a few research institutions. 

In collaboration with the Center for Biomedical Imaging, at the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and, part of the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), BNAC is leveraging the close proximity of PET and MRI scanners to develop a hybrid imaging framework that allows PET-MRI imaging from the preclinical to the clinical stage. In particular, we are directly fusing serially acquired preclinical and clinical PET and MRI data as well as simultaneously acquired PET-MRI with our unique miniature PET detector, as well with our human MRI and PET/CT scanners. BNAC has established experimental protocols and developed computer programs for the co-registration, analysis and distribution of the hybrid imaging data. 

Our center has a one-of-a-kind imaging facility for multi-modal hybrid PET-MRI-CT imaging studies from small animals, to large animals to clinical research studies and trials, enabling T1 through T4 translational research using nuclear imaging technology. This allows the exploration of new molecular diagnostic and treatment approaches in the preclinical setting followed by rapid translation to the clinical setting, addressing a critical bottleneck of current PET-based research. The availability of truly simultaneous PET-MRI-CT imaging technology sets the stage for entirely new functional, metabolic and pharmacokinetic research approaches in different models of disease, as well as approaches to investigate remyelination and repair in vivo using specific treatments.

Most recently, BNAC has established an important collaboration with the Centre for Probe Development & Commercialization (CPDC) and CanProbe to develop and distribute a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) version of a recently developed radiotracer for microglia activity detection, called 18 kDa translocator protein radioligand [F]N-fluoroacetyl-N-(2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)-2-phenoxyaniline (18F-PBR06). The CPDC was founded in 2008 as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR), specializing in radiopharmaceutical research and development. Since its inception, CPDC has gained recognition as a leading radiopharmaceutical organization. It is one of a select few R&D centres that has the full range of scientific, technical, regulatory and business expertise combined with the full specialized infrastructure required to translate radiopharmaceuticals to the clinic and provide them to the commercial marketplace. CanProbe is a joint venture between the University Health Network (UHN) and the CPDC to create a Canadian Centre of Excellence for the development, translation, utilization and commercialization of radiopharmaceuticals. CanProbe leverages the strengths of its partnership with BNAC.

In collaboration with CPDC and CanProbe, BNAC is starting the first multi-center clinical trials with 18F-PBR06 and other radiopharmacuticals in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological diseases. Evidence is mounting that there is a profound infiltration of activated microglia and blood-borne macrophages in a number of neurodegenerative neurological disorders. For example, microglia can be activated throughout lesions in MS, whereas in slowly expanding (smoldering) or chronic active expanding lesions, microglia and macrophages are concentrated as a dense rim around the lesions. Microglia are also activated, in a more diffuse way, in the white matter and gray matter with concomitant axonal degeneration and meningeal inflammation. Thus, chronic activation of microglia has been linked to neurodegeneration in the progressive phase of the disease and development of brain atrophy. By using 18F-PBR06 and novel MRI contrast agents, like ultra small particle iron oxide (USPIO), we are monitoring the evolution of microglia pathology in patients with relapsing and progressive forms of the disease in relation to a variety of novel disease-modifying treatments.

For more information about PET imaging endpoints, click here.


  • Zivadinov R, Weinstock-Guttman B, Benedict R, Dwyer MG, Schweser F, Jakimovski D, Bergsland
    N, Piani-Meier D, Kropshofer H. Innovative comparative study assessing the effect of siponimod
    on reactive microglia/astrocytes in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: Study
    design. 74 th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, Seattle, USA, April 3,
  • Schweser F, Dhamankar A, Choudhary P, Weinstock N, Knapp C, Preda M, Shin D, Zivadinov R, Wrabetz L (2018) Truly simultaneous preclinical PET-MRI in a 20cm 9.4 Tesla magnet with a retrofitted miniature detector: Initial results in the twitcher mouse model of Krabbe disease. 6th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Paris, France June 16 to 21 [Open article]

Read More Articles


Contact Our Team Today

Part of BNAC’s mission is to help share our tools and experience with our colleagues and other industry partners. If you need help with radiotracer development, PET acquisition and analyses in your research or clinical trial work, please reach out to discuss how we can assist. Our group brings decades of experience and expertise to every collaborative study and service partnership.

Contact Us