GE trials first PET imaging agent to track blood vessel growth in cancer
15 June 2006
Chalfont St Giles, UK. GE Healthcare, a division of the
General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) has begun a clinical study of a new
chemical for use in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging that could be
used to monitor angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels in tumours.
A molecular imaging agent that binds to the process of angiogenesis in the
body could help physicians identify the location and growth patterns of
tumours. Imaging the angiogenic process at the molecular level could also
enable researchers and clinicians to monitor the effectiveness of
anti-angiogenic cancer drugs and patient response to drug therapy.
body naturally forms new blood vessels during wound healing. However,
angiogenesis is also necessary for the growth of many tumours beyond a
certain size, as a cancerous tumour will recruit blood vessels in order to
sustain accelerated growth.
The molecule discovered by GE being studied in
this clinical trial is a radiolabeled small peptide in a configuration that
allows high affinity binding of the peptide to specific integrin receptors
including aVB3. Integrins are associated with endothelial cell
differentiation, proliferation, migration and attachment to the
extra-cellular matrix, which are critical during angiogenesis. Integrin
receptors have limited tissue distribution with high levels of expression
achieved during tumor growth, invasion and metastasis.
The trial, overseen
by David Brooks, MD, chief medical officer at GE IMANET is currently
enrolling subjects at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. This imaging agent
will be used to quantify response to therapy by imaging Stage IV metastatic
tumors of the breast before and after cycles of chemotherapy. "Angiogenesis
is a characteristic process of many cancers, and we're excited to
participate in this clinical trial, which may provide additional validation
for the use of this novel molecular imaging agent in oncology applications,"
said Brooks. "Data from this program could establish a new measurement used
to assess the effectiveness of treatment approaches in cancer."
Angiogenesis is one of the most promising areas of anti-cancer research,
with more than USD 4 billion invested in the research and development of
angiogenesis-based medicines, making this one of the most heavily funded
areas of medical research in history. More than 60 anti-angiogenesis drugs
are currently in clinical trials.
"Our vision is that one day clinicians
will be able to detect the progression of cancers at an earlier stage,
allowing rapid intervention, which can be monitored for effectiveness and
adjusted quickly to compensate for any lack of response," says Don Black,
head of research and development at GE Healthcare's Medical Diagnostics
division. "We're using our unique capabilities in biology and engineering to
develop imaging agents across all modalities that provide groundbreaking
molecular diagnostic options. We're planning to utilize our synthesis
platform for multi-site clinical trials and we're looking forward to
collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry to enable more targeted
therapies and better results for patients."
GE is planning to use its
proprietary FASTlab synthesis platform for multi-site clinical trials and
commercial production of this agent. This technology features a single-use
cassette that contains pre-measured quantities of all chemicals needed for
the synthesis of radiopharmaceuticals used by technicians in commercial and
research radiopharmacies. FASTlab cassettes require virtually no assembly
and easily snap into the synthesis module. Strictly controlled and
consistent production of PET tracer candidates at each clinical site is
essential and this is a cassette based synthesis system that is not limited
to a single tracer molecule, and accelerates the set up and execution of
these trials. GE Healthcare's goal is to make innovative tracers available
to patients and doctors as soon as possible.