Simultaneous Imaging and Drug Delivery for Prostate Cancer Theranostics

Clinical decisions for patient management require precise knowledge of the primary tumour and sites of its loco-regional (lymph nodes) or distant spread, questions that are hard to answer given current imaging strategies. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detects the effects of cancer on the host organ, rather than directly imaging the cancer. The project team has developed a theranostic, a highly-sensitive 19F molecular imaging agent based on hyperbranched polymers (19F-HP) that can be used for diagnosis and therapy. This images well in vivo, is biocompatible, can be ligated to targeting ligands to improve specificity and to drugs for targeted delivery.  19F- MRI can provide a strong signal from the uptake of small amounts of 19F-HP by prostate cancer, as there is no endogenous fluorine in the body, and superposition onto conventional MRI provides anatomical context. This project will focus on targeting 19F-HP to prostate cancer by attaching ligands that bind prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) on the surface of more than 90% of prostate cancers, thus providing a biomarker that is specific and sensitive for low tumour volume disease. Therapeutic drugs such as docetaxel/cabazitaxel can also be conjugated to PSMA-targeted 19F-HP in a way that allows their release into cells, allowing targeted drug delivery and the ability to image the response by 19F-MRI.


2013 - 2016


NHMRC Project Grant $545 362