Glutamate is one of the most common neurotransmitters in the human brain and is involved in virtually all brain functions. But even though researchers’ PET cameras can produce images of other important neurotransmission systems, such as the dopamine and serotonin systems, until now it has not been possible to capture images of the glutamate system. This is because there has not been any suitable tracer that can bind specifically to the receptors in the glutamate system.

In collaboration with Karolinska Institutet, AstraZeneca has now developed such a tracer, which makes it possible for the first time to study the glutamate system in the brains of living people.

“The glutamate system is an area of keen interest for research, especially for gaining an understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders,” says Professor Lars Farde at Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca. “All anti-psychotic medicines currently available on the market work via the dopamine system, for example. However, it may well turn out that glutamate receptors are even better drug targets.”

Within the framework of this same collaboration, a state-of-the-art PET camera has been purchased for use in both academic research and pharmaceutical development.

“The new PET camera will allow us to study the brain with a much higher richness of detail than previously,” comments Professor Christer Halldin of Karolinska Institutet. “And thanks to the new tracer, we will be able to explore an entirely new neurotransmission system through high-resolution imaging.”

PET data:
PET (Positron Emission tomography) is a medical imaging technique that is based on the decomposition of radioactive isotopes and can provide three-dimensional images of movements of signal substances in the body.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Christer Halldin, Karolinska Institutet
Tel: +46-8-517 726 78
Mobile: +46-70-484 49 89

Professor Lars Farde, AstraZeneca
Tel: +46-8-553 280 49, +46-8-517 726 73
Mobile: +46-73-354 22 39

Press Officer Sabina Bossi, Karolinska Institutet
Tel: +46-8-524 860 66
Mobile: +46-70-614 60 66

Chief of Information Staffan Ternby, AstraZeneca
Tel: +46-8-553 261 07
Mobile: +46-70-557 43 00

Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research, education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For more information, visit

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $26.47 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.