Novel PET tracer may enhance lung cancer care

PET using a new voltage-sensitive tracer displayed promise for analyzing activity inside the mitochondria of lung cancer tumors, reported authors of an Oct. 30 study published in Nature.

Researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and David Geffen School of Medicine said the PET probe—18F-BnTP—can produce clear images of mitochondria activity. This information could help predict which patients with cancer will respond to treatment targeting mitochondria, known as the “powerhouse of cells.”

Mitochondria are central to maintaining the growth and survival of cancer cells, but scientists have had difficulty noninvasively visualizing activity within them.

For their study, Milica Momcilovic, with UCLA’s school of medicine, and co-researchers injected the tracer into mice with lung cancer tumors and performed PET imaging. They then surgically removed the tumors to understand the mitochondria’s function and activity.

While more research will ultimately be needed, the tracer could help determine which lung cancer patients may respond better to “mitochondrial function-targeting complex I inhibitor treatment,” and guide better overall treatment for the disease.