A recent study published in Scientific Reports by Georgia State University researchers reports the development of a new imaging agent technique that improves the use of MRI to quantitatively trace dynamic changes in biomarkers of prostate cancer, allowing both the possibility of early detection and of evaluating disease progression and drug treatment without the side effects associated with radiation.
In the study titled “GRPR-targeted Protein Contrast Agents for Molecular Imaging of Receptor Expression in Cancers by MRI,” researchers developed an innovative imaging agent called ProCA1.GRPR that can efficiently penetrate the tumor mass and target the Gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR), a protein differentially expressed on the surfaces of various diseased cells, including prostate and lung cancer.
Molecular imaging of cancer predictors with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers a better understanding of various cancers, as well as of drug activity during preclinical and clinical therapies. But one obstacle in MRI use for the evaluation of specific disease predictors is the absence of sensitive and precise imaging agents able to distinguish between tumor and normal tissue. “ProCA1.GRPR has a strong clinical translation for human application and represents a major step forward in the quantitative imaging of disease biomarkers without the use of radiation,” lead study author Jenny Yang, Distinguished University Professor and Associate Director of the Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Georgia State, said in a news release. “This information is valuable for staging disease progression and monitoring treatment effects.”
These results bring a significant advancement in molecular imaging with a capacity to quantitatively detect spatial distribution and expression levels of disease predictors without the of use of radiation. ProCA1.GRPR is expected to have important preclinical and clinical implications for the early detection of cancer and for monitoring treatment effects. “Our discovery is of great interest to both chemists and clinicians for disease diagnosis, including noninvasive early detection of human diseases, cancer biology, molecular basis of human diseases and translational research with preclinical and clinical applications,” added Shenghui Xue, a study co-author and postdoctoral researcher in Georgia State’s Department of Chemistry.
Better-quality imaging agents like ProCA1.GRPR have important implications in understanding the development and treatment of diseases, including prostate cancer.