Rodent PET scan solving health riddles

Soon, researchers at the University of Bergen will use a PET scanner on rats and mice. A practice that could lead to improved future health for all.

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When Bergen Medical Research Foundation gave 12 million NOK gift to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bergen (UiB), this enabled the faculty to purchase a PET scanner for use on small animals. Easily explained, the machine shoots pictures of internal body organs and enables the scientist to spot diseases, to find what treatment does or doesn’t work and to develop new and better treatment. This may benefit future patients.

Building research expertise

Before anyone is scanned with the PET machine, their blood is injected with a substance that contains tiny, radioactive atoms. The radiation from these can be registered from outside of the body. The pictures shot, show the biological processes taking place inside of the cells. Already, PET scanning has been used in developing better treatment for diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Kåre Rommetveit is general manager at Bergen Medical Research Foundation and he believes that the gift will result in improved health for a great number of people.

– This is part of our strategy to build research expertise. In the long term, we believe that this work will be transferable to general medicine and thus benefit all, Rommetveit says.

Professor Olav Tenstad at the Department of Biomedicine agrees with Rommetveit.

– This is a major boost for our research, Tenstad says. – The PET scanner will probably help to bring forth better treatment. The scanner provides us with useful information, which then can be used to treat many diseases. Receiving this scanner adds another gear to our research.

Collaborative effort

Once the PET scanner is in operation, the use and maintenance of it will be collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The machine will be situated in the PET Centre at Haukeland University Hospital and will be available for use by researchers from around Norway and from a number of research disciplines.

Dean Nina Langeland at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry believes strongly in the use of the new rodent PET scanner.

– The gift of an animal PET from Bergen Medical Research Foundation is very important to us, Langeland says.

– This helps us get closer to our goal for the researchers at our faculty to have instant access to cutting-edge research equipment. Now we are also better equipped to collaborate with other researchers both on a national and an international level.


Facts about PET


  • PET stands for positron emission tomography
  • The person to receive PET scanning, will be injected with a radioactive substance. Normally a radioactive for of glucose (FDG)
  • Today PET scans are in regular use for cancer diagnostics
  • PET scans are often combined with Computer Tomography (CT), a form of X-rays, where you put the PET and CT images on top of each other
  • The new PET scanner for small animals is financed with 12 million NOK from Bergen Medical Research Foundation, 3 million NOK from the Norwegian Research Council and one million NOK from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at UiB.


Sources: Bergen Medical Research Foundation, petsenteret.no