New nuclear medicine imaging method shows strong potential for cancer imaging
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IMAGE: Novel radiolabeled small molecules bind to fibroblast activation proteins in cancer-associated fibroblasts found within the tumor stroma. view more 

Credit: Loktev and Lindner et al.

RESTON, VA – A new nuclear medicine imaging method could help diagnose widespread tumors, such as breast, colon, pancreas, lung and head and neck cancer better than current methods, with less inconvenience to patients and with equal or improved accuracy. The study is featured in the September issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

The new imaging method, developed by a team of German researchers, targets cancer-associated fibroblasts, a subpopulation of tumor stroma cells (connective tissue cells). These fibroblasts are an attractive target for diagnostic imaging and therapy, as they are present in more than 90 percent of epithelial carcinomas, including pancreatic, colon and breast cancer.

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) have a high expression of fibroblast activation protein (FAP) and are known to be involved in tumor growth, migration and progression. They are also genetically more stable than cancer cells, making them less susceptible to developing therapy resistance.

“The appearance of FAP in CAFs in many epithelial tumors and the fact that overexpression is associated with a worse prognosis led to the hypothesis that

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