Technique to More Effectively Diagnose and Treat Cancer Developed by Georgia State Researchers

cancer cells

ATLANTA—A method to better trace changes in cancers and treatment of the prostate and lung without the limitations associated with radiation has been developed by Georgia State University researchers.

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Their findings were published Wednesday, Nov. 17 in Scientific Reports by Nature.

The researchers developed a new imaging agent they named ProCA1.GRPR, and demonstrated that it leads to strong tumor penetration and is capable of targeting the gastrin-releasing peptide receptor expressed on the surface of diseased cells, including prostate, cervical and lung cancer.

Molecular imaging of cancer predictors using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers better and improved understanding of various cancers, and drug activity during preclinical and clinical treatments. However, one of the major barriers in using MRI in evaluating specific disease predictors for diagnosis and monitoring drug effects is the lack of highly sensitive and specific imaging agents capable of showing the difference between normal tissue and tumors.

“ProCA1.GRPR has a strong clinical translation for human application and represents a major step forward in the quantitative imaging of disease biomarkers without the use of radiation,” said Jenny Yang, lead author on the paper, Distinguished University Professor and associate director of the Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Georgia State. “This information is valuable for staging disease progression and monitoring treatment effects.”

The researchers’ results are an important advancement for molecular imaging with a unique ability to quantitatively detect expression level and spatial distribution of disease predictors without using radiation.

“Our discovery is of great interest to both chemists and clinicians for disease diagnosis, including noninvasive early detection of human diseases, cancer biology, molecular basis of human diseases and translational research with preclinical and clinical applications,” said Shenghui Xue, co-author on the paper and postdoctoral researcher in Georgia State’s Department of Chemistry.

Improved imaging agents such as ProCA1.GRPR have implications in understanding disease development and treatment.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the University of Georgia Bio-imaging Research Center and Georgia Research Alliance Ventures.

Read the study abstract →


Georgia State Expert

Jenny Yang
Distinguished University Professor, Chemistry
Associate Director, Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Dr. Yang’s research focuses on the chemical, biological, material and environmental role of calcium and calcium-binding proteins using design and engineering approaches. The Yang lab studies the role of metal ions, especially calcium, in biological, chemical and environmental systems to design novel tools for diagnostics and research, and to create drugs for better health and overall environment.

Jenny Yang