Philip Low, PhD a MILabs U-SPECT/CT user at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, US was recently featured on ABC News – Good Morning America show highlighting his work in developing a highly specific folate-linked imaging agent which has proven effective in initial ovarian cancer surgery in humans.
“Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to see, and this surgical technique allowed surgeons to spot a tumor 30 times smaller than could be detected using standard techniques,” indicated Professor Low. “With ovarian cancer, it is clear that the more cancer you can remove, the better the prognosis for the patient,” Low indicated in a statement. “This is why we chose to begin with ovarian cancer. It seemed to be the best place to start to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Although Low and his research team have tested the fluorescence agent in patients with ovarian cancer, he told Good Morning America that he envisions the same strategy working in 40% of cancers. Folate, a vitamin absorbed by cells to varying degrees, is highly expressed in ovarian cancer. But lung, kidney, endometrial, breast and colon cancers can express the folate receptor as well, Low said.
Low and his team plan to work with the Mayo Clinic on the next stage of clinical trials. In the meantime, they will continue to further their work in this area. “We want to be able to see deeper into the tissue, beyond the surface, Low indicated. “Different cancers have tumors with different characteristics, and some branch and wind their way deeper into tissue. We will continue to evolve this technology and make improvements that help cancer patients.”
To meet these objectives, Professor Low has indicated that, “We plan to expand all of our tumor-targeted ligands to include SPECT imaging with our U-SPECT/CT and intend to publish the results of this work very soon.”
Professor Low has collaborated with the Department of Surgery, Gynecology, and Pathology and Molecular Biology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, as well as Technische Universitat Munchen, in Germany on this work. The results of their trial were recently published in Nature Medicine, “Intraoperative tumor-specific fluorescence imaging in ovarian cancer by folate receptor-a targeting: first in-human results”