New substances to provide better diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer
Researchers at Uppsala University have developed two new substances that show positive results for early detection of metastases in prostate cancer. "If only one of our two leads is successful, we hope to be able to help all men suffering from prostate cancer to longer and better lives," says Anna Orlova, Professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.
Each year, more than ten thousand Swedish men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thus, it its one of our most common public diseases, and despite that healthcare is gaining access to increasingly effective treatment, it is currently the form of cancer that causes the highest mortality rate in our country. The difficulty to at an early stage detect metastases outside the prostate gland has long been one of the main challenges in cancer research, but now a new method developed at Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy is showing promising results.
“When a prostate tumor begins to spread, the metastases are initially so small that they are not visible on magnetic resonance imaging. It can cause both incorrect diagnoses, incomplete surgical procedures and unnecessary suffering. Thus, we need a way to visualise every tumor before they grow too big. Our main clue is two trace elements, GRPR and PSMA, which are formed during the early stages of prostate cancer. Now, our team in collaboration with Ulrika Rosenström and Fanny Lundmark, researchers in Preparative Medicinal Chemistry at Uppsala University, has developed a substance that binds specifically to GRPR,” says Anna Orlova, Professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.
By attaching radionuclide to the substance, the smallest metastases can be located to where a SPECT or PET camera indicates increased uptake of radioactivity. The method has successfully been tried in a clinical phase I study. If it reaches healthcare, the substance is also expected to be capable to transport drugs directly to the tumor, which in turn would limit unnecessary toxic spread during treatment.
“Naturally, a complete diagnosis would be most optimal, and in parallel we have developed a molecule that binds to both trace elements during all phases of the tumor. We have already tested it on mice with positive results, and will soon continue with studies in humans. If only one of our two leads proves successful, we hope to provide healthcare the tools needed to help all men suffering from prostate cancer to longer and better lives.”
Both projects are developed within the framework of Ayman Abouzayed's doctoral studies at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.
- Research in Theranostics at Uppsala University
- Research in Petides for Molecular Imaging at Uppsala University
Anna Orlova, Professor
Faculty of Pharmacy
Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt
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