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New marker substance for cancer cells
Date:7/5/2013

Imaging techniques in cancer medicine provide far more than merely information on the scale and location of cancerous ulcers. There are modern methods that additionally characterise the tumour cells precisely, for instance by specific molecules they carry on their surface. Such additional information gives doctors key clues as to the precise cancer type and enables them to predict the probability that a patient will respond to a particular form of therapy.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is one such technique. Unlike with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, PET does not render the body tissue visible, but rather radioactively marked molecules known as tracers inside the body, which are injected into the patient's bloodstream prior to the scan. Based on the lock-and-key principle, they adhere to certain molecules on the cell surface. Through the radioactive radiation, specifically cell tissue with these surface molecules is visible on the PET scan. Researchers from ETH Zurich, the Paul Scherrer Institute and company Merck Millipore have now developed a new tracer for PET that binds to the folic acid receptor. This receptor is interesting because it accumulates on the cell surface in many cancer types. The PET scan provides information on the size and location of the tumour and the density of the folic acid receptors on the cell surface.

World's first clinical trial

The team of researchers headed by Simon Ametamey and Roger Schibli, both professors at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zurich, have successfully tested their new substance in mice with cervical tumours. In a next step, the scientists now want to study whether the substance proves equally successful in humans. A pilot study on patients with ovarian, lung and intestinal cancer in several Swiss hospitals, including University Hospital Zurich, is in preparation. It will be the first clinical trial on a folic acid receptor marker for PET on
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Contact: Roger Schibli
roger.schibli@pharma.ethz.ch
41-797-801-171
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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