AstraZeneca and Karolinska Institutet PET Centre Announce Molecular Imaging Research Agreement

Thursday, 26 January 2012

AstraZeneca and Karolinska Institutet today announced a three year collaborative research agreement that will apply state-of-the-art molecular imaging technologies to generate novel diagnostic imaging tools and further the development of AstraZeneca’s neuroscience research and development pipeline.

AstraZeneca and the Swedish medical university Karolinska Insitutet have collaborated since 2006 in the field of Positron Emission Tomography (PET), a modern imaging technique allowing for non-invasive examination of the human brain. This joint venture and application of complementary capabilities has led to the invention of numerous novel PET ligands, as well as aided in the development of a number of drug development programs. Continued collaboration between AstraZeneca and the university is expected to deliver new imaging tools for the diagnosis of patients primarily with severe neurological illnesses as well as in pain control. In addition, the alliance will facilitate the development of drugs for disorders such as chronic pain, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, where there is an urgent need for new treatments.

Diseases that affect brain function are a widespread public health problem. According to the European Brain Council nearly a third of Europe's population suffers from, at some time in their life, diseases that affect the brain. PET cameras and suitable imaging molecules can be used to study proteins in the brain that are biologically active in the signaling between nerve cells or that serve as markers for brain disorders. Knowledge about these proteins is highly significant for understanding how the brain works, and also for the effective development and testing of new drugs.

Karolinska Institutet has one of the world's foremost PET centres. AstraZeneca scientists will supply the technologies and skills required to synthesize and develop new imaging molecules. The PET Centre at Karolinska Institutet will provide radiochemistry for labeling of the imaging molecules and the PET-studies required to support and facilitate AstraZeneca projects.

Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice President Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca, said: “AstraZeneca is pleased to extend our collaboration with Karolinska Institutet in the area of PET imaging. Demonstrating robust target engagement is one of the critical success criteria for transitioning molecules through early research and development. Working with our colleagues from Karolinska Institutet will help us identify and develop new PET ligands and accelerate our efforts to deliver novel medicines to patients.”

Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, President of Karolinska Institutet, said:
“Karolinska Institutet has a 30 year successful and pioneering tradition in PET research. The method allows for rapid translation of laboratory knowledge into mechanistic pharmacological studies in man. The collaboration with AstraZeneca is a wonderful opportunity that will strengthen this line of research. Karolinska Institutet welcomes the collaboration as a means toward improving the processes of drug and biomarker development.”

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:

About Karolinska Institutet

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities. It accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. Since 1901 the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine. For more information please visit:


Media Enquiries:

Ann-Leena Mikiver-AstraZeneca +46 (0)8 553 260 20
Laura Woodin-AstraZeneca +1 302 885 1087
Sabina Bossi-Karolinska Institutet +46 (0)8 5248 6066