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05/19/16

Unusual reaction mechanism for the production of PET-tracers discovered: Tobias Ritter delivers fundamental chemical input for imaging methods

Unusual reaction mechanism for the production of PET-tracers discovered:
Tobias Ritter delivers fundamental chemical input for imaging methods

Positron Emission Tomography is widely used for the research and diagnosis of cancer. But new tracer molecules could also help in better understanding neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The research work of Tobias Ritter can now facilitate  the development of new PET tracers. 

So far the selection of molecules that could be accessed for PET was highly limited. Due to the knowledge Ritter had acquired in his former research work, he now identified an unusual reaction mechanism to add fluorine into molecules. In a „concerted nucleophilic aromatic substitution“ the molecules can be built directly, without intermediates and much effort. 

„The discovery of our new reaction means an extension to our toolbox. We are now able to build molecules that we could not access before, and that relatively easily.“, Ritter explains. This discovery on a molecular basis may be an important step to translate the research to medical applications as it opens new perspectives on the development of new PET tracers for diagnosis.

Tobias Ritter describes the new reaction in his article 'Concerted nucleophilic aromatic substitution with 19F− and 18F−', now published in the renowned science magazine „Nature“.

 About Tobias Ritter

Tobias Ritter studied Chemistry at Technical University of Braunschweig, in Bordeaux, Lausanne and Stanford. He obtained his Ph.D. at ETH Zurich and performed postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In 2006 he received a professorship at Harvard University in Cambridge, where subsequently he became Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in 2012. In 2015 accepted a position as Director of Organic Synthesis at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. 

Here, the 41year-old is researching work on the fluorine  isotope 18F, which is widely used in the functional imaging technique Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Although the work in his unique radio laboratory is focused on fundamental chemical knowledge, Ritter always has the application of his work in mind and sees a strong connection to the field of medicine. 

contact:

Prof. Dr. Tobias Ritter
Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung
Direktor Organische Synthese
Telefon: 0208/306 2414, E-Mail: ritter@kofo.mpg.de