New Cancer Imaging Approach Could Enable Better Detection of Pancreatic Tumors

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Three images of pancreas tumor

These images show a tumor that is being targeted with a new drug called 89Zr-DFO-5B1, which is designed to detect CA19.9, a protein that is elevated in more than 90% of pancreatic tumors as well as in some other cancers. Memorial Sloan Kettering was recently given permission from the FDA to conduct the first-ever clinical trial with this new drug in patients with pancreatic cancer. 

The left panel shows a thin slice of the tumor that has been stained with a dye that allows researchers to distinguish the different types of cells present. The middle panel is a heat map indicating the area in which the drug accumulated in the tumor tissue after it was injected into the mouse. The right panel shows the relative amount of the target protein to which the radiopharmaceutical was directed.

The drug being tested here is what’s called a radiopharmaceutical, a compound made of an antibody coupled to a radioactive atom that can be imaged with PET scans.

By comparing the middle and right panel, the researchers can confirm that 89Zr-DFO-5B1 is successfully going where it’s supposed to go in the body.

The drug was developed in the laboratory of MSK radiochemist Jason Lewis, in collaboration with the company MabVax Therapeutics Holdings.

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