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Prostate Cancer Research

Progress Report: Steve Y. Cho, MD

Investigator: Steve Y. Cho, MD – Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University

Translation of [18F]DCFBC PET:A Novel Prostate Imaging Biomarker

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a molecular imaging technique that can produce a 3-D image of human cancers. This system works by injecting a patient with a radionuclide tracer (a compound that emits gamma ray that are detected by a scanner). The tracer is designed to localize to tumor tissue and not normal tissue. There are several molecular imaging tracers available for prostate cancer imaging however the tumor specificity, resolution of the images and/or the blood clearance of these compounds can be much improved for accurate diagnosis and assessment of therapy response. 

Under the expert mentorship of Dr. Martin Pomper, Dr. Cho is in the process of translating a novel prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET imaging agent ([18F]DCFBC) to the clinic, which was developedin Dr. Pomper’s laboratory with Dr. Ronnie Mease. PSMA is a cell surface molecule that is specific for prostate cancer cells and non-prostate solid tumor blood vessels. An elevated level of PSMA in prostate cancer is a predictor of poor prognosis. In a PET scan image, [18F]DCFBC lights up prostate cancer tumors located anywhere in the body by binding to PSMA.  Preclinical small animal imaging and pharmacology studies showed that [18F]DCFBC is a promising imaging agent  in detecting prostate cancer tumors.  This tracer has been designed to be very small in size (termed low molecular weight) as compared to some other tracers. A low molecular weight tracer is optimal because it can provide deeper penetration of solid tumors, it will clear the blood system faster and produces a higher resolution image.

Dr. Cho has recently received an Investigational New Drug (IND) approval of [18F]DCFBC from the FDA and will begin a clinical trial for metastatic prostate cancer patients by Q4 of 2010. The study will determine the safety and biodistribution of the tracer and measure its visual qualitative and quantitative capacity for detection of prostate tumor metastases. The hope is that [18F]DCFBC will provide physicians with a more accurate, higher resolution imaging tool for detection of prostate cancer. [18F]DCFBC may also provide the field with a better method of measuring therapy response.

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