New PET Tracer Can Help Detect Cancer, Lung Disease
With the right “tracer,” or binding peptide, PET imaging remains an important diagnostic tool for a variety of different cancers and medical conditions. A new study in Nature Communications highlights the development of a new tracer, a cystine knot peptide that selectively recognizes integrin ανβ6, a protein receptor known to be overexpressed in number of medical conditions including: oral squamous cell carcinoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC), intestinal gastric carcinomas, ovarian cancer, and stage III basal cell carcinoma, as well as a marker of metastasis in a variety of other cancer types. Furthermore, integrin ανβ6 is also known to play a role in the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Researchers from Stanford University engineered the new peptide to better identify pancreatic cancer in PET imaging studies. Their work quickly showed, however, that it could also detect other types of cancers, as well as IPF. To best demonstrate its effectiveness, the group conducted a small clinical trial to compare the use of their new peptide in both healthy individuals and patients who had been diagnosed with cancer of IPF. While it was a small trial, they were able to evaluate the tracer’s safety and pharmacokinetics in the healthy volunteers, as well as its ability to visualize multiple cancer types in study participants who had already been diagnosed with disease.
The researchers plan to do further, extended testing to prove the efficacy of the tracer but they believe it such cystine knot tracers can have great clinical utility in the future, given that so many conditions show an overexpression of the integrin αvβ6 protein.