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New Molecular Imaging Biomarker Efficiently Demonstrates Malignant Prostate Tumors

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Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA and NuView Life Sciences of Park City, UT have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for advancing the development of a new molecular imaging (MI) compound which identifies genomic expressions linked to prostate cancer (PC).

“The prostate compound developed at Thomas Jefferson University may provide a noninvasive early and more accurate imaging technique to a) localize primary PC, that will guide biopsy b) detect recurrent disease, c) image metastatic disease and d) determine effectiveness of treatment,” said Mathew Thakur, Professor of Radiology and Director and principle investigator. Advances in genomics and proteomics have shed new light on the genesis of many diseases, including PC. PC cells express oncogene product VPAC1 exogenously in a large number. These specific fingerprints express themselves at a very early stage; well before cell morphology has altered for histologic confirmation, and even well before the elevation of PSA. We hypothesize that targeting elevated VPAC1 with gene guided radioactive probe for molecular imaging of PC will permit us to contribute toward this need.

“During the past 10 years the Thakur laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University has gained extensive experience in successfully targeting these biomarkers with Tc-99m or Cu-64 labeled specific peptides, for early and accurate diagnosis of pancreatic and breast cancers in animals as well as in humans by planar, SPECT and PET imaging. The early data for PET imaging of PC by Cu-64-peptide are highly encouraging,” said Thakur.

Among men in the USA, prostate cancer (PC) is the most lethal disease, second only to the cancers of the lung and bronchus combined. Statistical data indicate that PC affects one male in every six who are older than 60 years of age and the risk continues to rise as life expectancy increases. Although great strides have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of PC, 29,500 men succumbed to PC in 2007 alone. Early diagnosis of PC can warrant aggressive therapeutic intervention, greatly improve the management of disease, and save patients from morbidity and mortality. Two prominent diagnostic tests for PC, namely the determination of prostate specific antigen (PSA) and the transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), suffer from serious limitations and require invasive systemic biopsy for histologic confirmation, considered to be the gold standard. In 2007, an estimated 750,000 prostate biopsies were performed, more than two-thirds of which had benign pathology, leading to a major inefficiency. Inaccurate or unreliable diagnosis results in, under or over treatment of patients leading to minimal benefits, incontinence and/or impotence and significant loss of health care resources.

NuView CEO Paul Crowe said “The benefits from this MI biomarker are clear. If potentially terminal conditions such as prostate cancer can be accurately detected before manifesting into a structural change, patient outcomes would greatly improve and healthcare costs would decline. MI is non-invasive, so the need for exploratory surgery would also be reduced, and MI can be used to track the progress and response from drug therapies or other treatments, enabling the physician to monitor and quickly respond to their patient’s condition.”

NuView Medical Director Peter Conti, M.D. adds, “This development of genomics-based molecular imaging diagnostics is very promising and may, with alterations to the biomarkers original complex, become a companion or paired targeted therapeutic. The potential for pairing a molecular diagnostic and a targeted therapy based on the individual patient characteristics, will contribute to the growing trend towards more efficient personalized medicine. We are pleased to part of this new frontier in medicine that should provide physicians with new approaches for diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders.” Dr. Conti is a professor of Biomedical Engineering, Radiology and Pharmacy at the University Of Southern California.

Source: PR Newswire