Federal grant of $3 million allocated for lung infections study led by Indian American  

Nalinikanth Kotagiri. PHOTO: UC.EDU

A study which seeks to develop a new imaging method to detect certain types of lung infections, has received federal funding of $3 million. The study is led by University of Cincinnati researcher Nalinikanth Kotagiri, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UC James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

The five-year $3 million, R01 grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will help Kotagiri develop and study the effectiveness of different kinds of injectable probes (metallic contrast agents) that would collect at the site of the infection and immediately light up under a nuclear imaging machine, known as a PET scan, a news release from UC (uc.edu) August 14, 2023, said.

Radiologists currently use chest X-rays to confirm the diagnosis of pneumonia and other infections in the lungs, but cannot specify if it is a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, something only a pathologist can do after culturing the sample of lung tissue collected through an invasive procedure that needs two to three days.

But, as Kotagiri notes, critically ill patients might not have time to spare.

“Our solution is to use imaging to identify what is causing the pneumatic episode within hours, to hasten a treatment plan,” Kotagiri is quoted saying in the news release. This imaging can also be used after the treatment to see if it is working.

An added benefit, he says, is that the contrast agent development process “doesn’t require elaborate processing or preparation time.” (A contrast agent is the substance used to increase the contrast fluids for improved medical imaging)

This is critical as development of contrast agents can be time-consuming and complicated, the news release notes.

“With this study, in animal models, Kotagiri and colleagues will only be looking at bacterial and viral pneumonias in conjunction with COPD, but the imaging approach has the potential to apply to other types of infections such as fungal infections or conditions such as cystic fibrosis,” the news release notes.



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