11C-Sarcosine Detects Prostate Cancer Better Than Other Imaging Agents, Study Reports

11C-Sarcosine Detects Prostate Cancer Better Than Other Imaging Agents, Study Reports
A new PET imaging agent known as Carbon-11 labeled sarcosine, or 11C-sarcosine, detects prostate cancer better than the current agent, 11C-choline, University of Michigan researchers report. PET is short for positron-emission tomography. The imaging technique uses radioactive agents, or tracers, to try to identify diseases in a patient's body. This is usually done by looking at metabolic processes — that is, the way the body converts food to energy — which are often distinct in cancer and healthy cells. The Michigan team's study, published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, was titled “Preclinical evaluation of 11C-sarcosine as a substrate of proton-coupled amino acid transporters and first human application in prostate cancer.” Prostate cancer cells disrupt several metabolism pathways and burn more amino acids than normal prostate cells. This leads to higher levels of sarcosine — a compound the body produces as it creates choline and glycine amino acids — in prostate cancer tissue than in normal prostate tissue. Because sarcosine levels increase during prostate cancer progression, higher levels are associated with tumor aggressiveness and growth. Solid tumors produce substances known as PAT molecules that transport sarcosine into cancer cells. This means that tracing sarcosine is a good way for a PET imaging system to track prostate cancer. The Michigan researchers decided to compare sarcosine's ability to detect prostate cancer cells with 11C-choline's. Although a 11C-
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