A new imaging agent appears capable of
distinguishing aggressive from benign prostate cancer, potentially helping doctors select with better precision those patients in need of more extensive treatment, a pre-clinical study finds.
So far only tested in mice, the imaging agent makes use of a newly identified protein only present in aggressive prostate cancer forms. A more precise way of diagnosing this type of prostate cancer would both allow early treatment of those in need, and spare patients with slow-growing tumors unnecessary side effects.
In addition, the imaging method could be used to monitor patients with slow-growing tumors for changes, detecting if a tumor turns aggressive.
The study, “Targeted Contrast Agent Specific to an Oncoprotein in Tumor Microenvironment with the Potential for Detection and Risk Stratification of Prostate Cancer with MRI,” was published in the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry.
Earlier studies have linked the protein, named EDB-FN (extradomain B fibronectin), to metastases and treatment-resistance in other cancers. This led researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic to explore the protein in prostate cancer. They noted it was a driver of aggressive prostate cancer growth.
To evaluate this finding, they developed a compound that bound specifically to EDB-FN. They then linked it to a contrast enhancement agent used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), so an MRI scan of the prostate would light up only aggressive tumors.