October 24, 2008

More Precise Imaging Agent to See Tumors

A new imaging agent has been developed that can be used in scanning for tumors with a more precise image than existing methods, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. Zheng Jim Wang -- director of Molecular Imaging at MPI Research Inc,. in Michigan, and an adjunct assistant professor at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio -- said the discovery has the potential to revolutionize pre-clinical cancer research and clinical diagnostic practice.

The imaging agent makes use of compounds that have already been approved for treating patients: the anti-cancer drug bevacizumab, or Avastin, and Copper-64, a radioactive copper nuclide, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for some clinical trials.

Wang and colleagues attached bevacizumab to a molecule called DOTA and tagged it with a radioactive tracer, Copper-64. Bevacizumab is an antibody that targets vascular endothelial growth factor -- VEGF -- a signaling protein released by tumor cells and which plays an important role in angiogenesis, the process by which a growing tumor creates its own blood supply. Currently, bevacizumab is being used to treat patients with advanced colorectal cancer and is being tested in several other metastatic cancers.

Wang presented the findings at the 20th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Geneva, Switzerland.