Tools for noninvasive detection of bacterial pathogens are needed but are not currently available for clinical use. We have previously shown that para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) rapidly accumulates in a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, motivating the development of related PET radiotracers. In this study, 11C-PABA PET imaging was used to accurately detect and monitor infections due to pyogenic bacteria in multiple clinically relevant animal models. 11C-PABA PET imaging selectively detected infections in muscle, intervertebral discs, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus–infected orthopedic implants. In what we believe to be first-in-human studies in healthy participants, 11C-PABA was safe, well-tolerated, and had a favorable biodistribution, with low background activity in the lungs, muscles, and brain. 11C-PABA has the potential for clinical translation to detect and localize a broad range of bacteria.


Alvaro A. Ordonez, Matthew F.L. Parker, Robert J. Miller, Donika Plyku, Camilo A. Ruiz-Bedoya, Elizabeth W. Tucker, Justin M. Luu, Dustin A. Dikeman, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Daniel P. Holt, Robert F. Dannals, Lloyd S. Miller, Steven P. Rowe, David M. Wilson, Sanjay K. Jain


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