GE Healthcare this week at the Society of Nuclear Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego announced the launch of the a first-in-man clinical study designed to validate information provided by a molecular imaging agent in evaluating the extent and nature of cancer. This proprietary positron emission tomography (PET) agent has a biological mechanism to track the process of angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels in the body.
The body naturally forms new blood vessels during wound healing. However, angiogenesis is also necessary for the growth of many tumors beyond a certain size, as a cancerous tumor will recruit blood vessels in order to sustain accelerated growth. A molecular imaging agent that binds to the process of angiogenesis in the body could help physicians identify the location and growth patterns of tumors, GE said. Imaging the angiogenic process at the molecular level could also enable researchers and clinicians to monitor the effectiveness of anti-angiogenic cancer drugs and patient response to drug therapy.
The molecule discovered by GE being studied in this clinical trial is a radiolabeled small peptide in a configuration that allows high affinity binding of the peptide to specific integrin receptors including αVβ3. Integrins are associated with endothelial cell differentiation, proliferation, migration and attachment to the extra-cellular matrix, which are critical during angiogenesis. Integrin receptors have limited tissue distribution with high levels of expression achieved during tumor growth, invasion and metastasis.
The trial, overseen by David Brooks, MD, chief medical officer at GE IMANET is currently enrolling subjects at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. The imaging agent will be used to quantify response to therapy by imaging Stage IV metastatic tumors of the breast before and after cycles of chemotherapy.