New Compounds could aid cancer detection, treatment

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Swiss researchers are developing specific agents for use with a special imaging system for early cancer detection and treatment of cancerous tumors at a very early stage, according to a report in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. The research is being performed at the Center for Radiopharmaceutical Science, a joint endeavor of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), and the University Hospital in Zurich.

The goal of the work is to produce agents that can both find tumors and also deliver drugs that will destroy the tumors. Nearly two years ago the Center acquired a SPECT/CT (X-SPECT) small animal imaging system from Gamma Medica-Ideas.

"In vivo imaging has become an integral part of our research work at the Center for Radiopharmaceutical Science," said Roger Schibli, PhD, assistant professor for Therapeutics Technologies at ETH Zurich, and leader of the Swiss research team. "There is no adequate substitute for pre-clinical assessment of novel SPECT and PET tracers than whole body imaging of animals. Our research has concentrated on the use of vitamins, notably folic acid and vitamin B12 and derivatives thereof for use as molecular 'Trojan horses' for specific delivery of diagnostic or cytotoxic probes into tumor cells. The high quality X-SPECT images of these studies were so convincing that clinicians immediately could be convinced to plan human studies," he added.