Appearing online ahead of print in Nature Medicine, the researchers report the identification of a small protein that specifically recognizes tumors responding to chemotherapy. They show that the protein, when tagged with a light-emitting molecule, can be used to visualize cancer response in mice just two days after starting therapy.
Improved monitoring of tumor response could help customize patient treatment and also speed up the development of new cancer drugs, said senior investigator Dennis Hallahan, M.D., the Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and chair of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Currently, response to chemotherapy is determined by measuring changes in tumor size with imaging techniques like CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
“It takes two to three months of cancer therapy before we can determine whether the therapy has been effective for a patient,” he said. “If we can get that answer within one to two days, we can switch that patient to an alternative regimen very quickly.”
Rapid assessment of tumor response is especially important now, Hallahan says, given recent advances in molecular targeted therapies – chemotherapy medications that specifically interfere with the growth and proliferation of cancer cells while avoiding damage to healthy cells.
“We now have so many molecular targeted drugs to choose from, and that number is growing every year, so we are now at a point where a patient can be switched from one regimen to another,” he said. “But we need the tools to make the decision to use an alternative therapy with the patient.”
To find a rapid and noninvasive method to assess cancer response to these therapies, Hallahan focused not on tumor size, but molecular and cellular changes in responding tumors.
From a panel of billions of protein fragments, or peptides, Hallahan and colleagues identified one that specifically bound to tumors responding to therapy. To this peptide, they attached a light-emitting molecule and injected these labeled peptides into mice that had been implanted with human tumors.
Using specialized imaging cameras that detect light in the near-infrared range (invisible to the human eye), the investigators saw that tumors responding to therapy were “brighter” than non-responding tumors. The peptide detected response in a wide range of tumors – brain, lung, colon, prostate and breast – within two days of initiation of treatment.
“The key word here is ‘days,’” Hallahan said. “This will allow us to minimize the duration of treatments with ineffective regimens in cancer patients.”
The next step will be to move the technology into humans. The imaging technique used in mice (near-infrared) is not sensitive enough to penetrate deeply into human tissues, so the researchers are adapting the technology to an imaging modality commonly used in humans, called PET (positron emission tomography).
“This imaging peptide will enter clinical trials within about 18 months,” Hallahan said. “The purpose, when we bring it into people, is to ask a very simple question: can we image responding cancers in people as well as we can in mice?”
If so, he says that he suspects that such molecular imaging methods could help accelerate the development of new chemotherapeutic drugs.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, we’ll have a patient on a drug for months before we can re-evaluate the size of the tumor,” Hallahan said. “If we can get that answer within a couple of days, it will speed cancer drug development in the early phases of clinical trials.”
Craig Boerner | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering