Open main menu

David R. Elmaleh is a scientist, inventor and entrepreneur. He is an inventor of three drugs that are in use in man or in late stage clinical trials including: the radiopharmaceutical preparation of (2FDG) which has been used in over a million PET imaging procedures, Beta-methyl modified fatty acid (BMIPP) a commercially successful cardiac SPECT agent, and Altropane which has completed Phase III clinical trials. He is a co-author on over 120 publications and an inventor on dozens of issued and pending patents[1] in a range of disciplines, including molecular imaging and pharmaceuticals.

David R. Elmaleh
EducationBSc, MS, and PhD
Alma materHebrew University of Jerusalem
OccupationProfessor and medical researcher
EmployerHarvard Medical School and Pure Tech Ventures
Known forWork in Fluorine-18-FDG synthesis


Elmaleh holds a BSc in Physics and Chemistry, and an MS and PhD in Chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1976 he became an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of Contrast Media Chemistry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.[2] Elmaleh's recent work includes advanced imaging compounds to improve the speed and effectiveness of cardiovascular disease diagnosis.[3][4] Elmaleh is a recipient of numerous NIH and DOE awards, and has participated as a reviewer for the National Institute of Health (NIH).[5]

In 1998 Elmaleh led a team that showed that nuclear medicine could be used to find incipient plaque long before these fatty deposits narrow vessels and cause angina and other symptoms of atherosclerosis in rabbits. The study was done in order to help the early prediction of the risk of stroke or cardiac arrest in human patients.[6]

Pharmaceutical industryEdit


In 1997 Elmaleh was the scientific founder of Imaging Biopharmaceuticals, now called Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals. The company researched and developed targeted therapeutic and imaging radiopharmaceuticals for cancer. In 2001 Elmaleh was the scientific founder of Mersana Therapeutics under its original name NanoPharma, a company that developed novel cancer therapeutics. In 2003 he co-founded FluoroPharma, a company based upon his biopharmaceutical patents. He is also the co-founder of PureTech Ventures, where he currently serves as a senior advisor. In 2011 he co-founded the firm AZTherapies, a developer of Alzheimer’s disease drugs, where he currently serves as Executive Chairman, and Chief Scientific Advisor. He has been named by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News as one of the biotechnology industry's top thirteen serial entrepreneurs.[2][5][7]

Fluorine-18-FDG synthesisEdit

In 1982, a new and more efficient method of fluorine-18-FDG synthesis, which used an anhydrous fluoride salt, was developed by David Elmaleh and Shlomo Levi at MGH (Mass General Hospital). Fluorine-18 could be produced more easily in a cyclotron as a fluoride salt and was easier to handle than fluorine gas. With this new synthetic method, FDG could be produced in a three-step process with over 20% yield, which was significantly better than the previous one which entailed five steps and a 10-12% yield. "This synthetic method was patented by Elmaleh and Levi. However, Wolf and Fowler filed for patent abandonment and the MGH derived no benefit.".[8] Later Kurt Hamacher made a modification of Elmaleh and Levi’s method and that method is now used in commercial FDG production. FDG-PET is an imaging agent that is widely used. It provides a readout for the rate of glucose metabolism which is usually abnormally high in areas of inflammation and in tumors and conversely is abnormally low due to ischemia or neurodegeneration. The concept of FDG-PET was developed by Alfred Wolf, Joanna Fowler and colleagues. However, that original method for FDG synthesis was not practically viable.

Additional researchEdit

Elmaleh developed a method of altering the metabolic pathway so that it would trap an imaging drug in a specific metabolic pathway, allowing a static image of organs and tissues. The increased the scope of radiopharmaceutical agents and usefulness of the images taken of the interior.[9] Elmaleh has also led medical teams into Parkinson's Disease research, including the development of the medical uses of altropane and its ability to differentiate between normal and abnormal brain cells.[10]


  1. ^ "David Elmaleh patents". Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Board of Directors" (PDF). May 29, 2012. p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 13, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Novel X rays highlight clogging arteries. - Free Online Library". 1998-01-24. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  4. ^ "Elmaleh research on disease diagnosis". Retrieved June 12, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b David R. Elmaleh. "David Elmaleh: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  6. ^ J. Raloff (January 24, 1998). "Novel X rays highlight clogging arteries" (PDF). Sciences News. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Lucky 13 Serial Entrepreneurs". Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. November 13, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Janet Miller, Radiopharmaceutical development at the Massachusetts General hospital (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on February 11, 2015, retrieved June 12, 2013 Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ David Elmaleh; E. Livini; S. Levy (1983). "Biochemical Considerations in the Design of Radiopharmaceuticals" (PDF). Diagnostic Imaging in Medicine. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-6810-3_14. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ Nicole Resnick (2006). "Accurate and Definitive Diagnoses: the Story, and the Promise, of Altropane". AUTM Better World Report. Archived from the original on July 10, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)