- New radiochemistry techniques can yield novel PET tracers for COX-2 and address the shortcomings in in vivo stability and specificity, which have held back clinical translation of tracers to image COX-2 expression. Current techniques limit radiosynthesis to analogs of the COX-2 inhibitors with fluorine-18 added via a carbon chain, or on an aromatic position which renders the radiolabeled analog less specific towards COX-2, resulting in tracers with low in vivo stability or specificity. To solve this problem, we have developed a new high affinity, 18F-labelled COX-2 inhibitor that is radiolabeled directly on a heteroaromatic ring. This molecule exhibits favorable biodistribution and increased metabolic stability. Synthesis of this molecule cannot be achieved by traditional means; consequently, we have developed an automated electrochemical radiosynthesis platform to synthesize up to 5 mCi of radiochemically pure 18F-COX-2ib in 4 hours (2% decay-corrected radiochemical yield). In vitro studies demonstrated clear correlation between COX-2 expression and uptake of the tracer. PET imaging of healthy animals confirmed that the molecule is excreted from blood within an hour, mainly through the hepatobiliary excretion pathway. In vivo metabolism data demonstrated that > 95% of the injected radioactivity remains in the form of the parent molecule 1 hour after injection.