Development of novel imaging biomarkers using positron emission tomography for characterization of malignant phenotype and response evaluation

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Title: Development of novel imaging biomarkers using positron emission tomography for characterization of malignant phenotype and response evaluation
Authors: Challapalli, Sree Amarnath Rao
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: Positron emission tomography (PET) enables noninvasive tumour imaging, as changes in metabolic activity secondary to therapy can be measured before changes in tumour size are evident on standard anatomic imaging. Two imaging approaches representing proliferation dependent and independent technologies are evolving as potential methods for assessing growth signalling and, thus, treatment response: [18F]3’-deoxy-3’-fluorothymidine (FLT) and [11C]choline. The validity of the former in patients with pancreatic cancer is unproven and likewise, the role of the latter in response to androgen deprivation/radiotherapy in prostate cancer (PCa) remains unexplored. Using a variety of approaches, the aim of this thesis was to provide an understanding of the role of these tracers in lesion detection and response assessment in patients by PET/computed tomography (PET/CT). Given the high physiological hepatic localisation of FLT, a recently reported kinetic spatial filtering (KSF) algorithm was evaluated as a way to de-noise abdominal FLT-PET data from patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Application of KSF led to improved lesion detection. FLT uptake (SUV60,max) significantly increased in mid-treatment (gemcitabine based) progressors (p=0.04). In this limited number of patients, reduction in FLT uptake did not predict overall survival. The role of [11C]choline PET/CT in lesion detection and response in prostate cancer (PCa) was also investigated using semi-quantitative and quantitative methods. As a prelude to the quantitative imaging studies, it was established that irreversible tracer uptake characterised tumour (breast cancer) [11C]choline kinetics. Similar irreversible uptake characterised PCa. An important finding was that tumour [11C]choline uptake (in 29 PCa patients) correlated with choline kinase (CHK) expression but not proliferation, as assessed by Ki67 labelling index. Immunohistochemistry of the above patients’ prostate cores with CHKα antibody demonstrated a spectrum of CHKα expression, ranging from expression in prostatic-intraepithelial-neoplasia to low to high expression in malignant cores. These findings were further corroborated in a larger cohort of 75 malignant cores derived from non-imaging studies. Having established [11C]choline as a proliferation independent marker of growth, its role in assessing treatment response was investigated. [11C]choline PET was sensitive to metabolic changes within prostate tumours following androgen deprivation and radical radiotherapy. While promising data were obtained with [11C]choline PET, the radiotracer is subject to metabolic degradation complicating data analysis. To this end, a novel metabolically stable analogue of choline ([18F]fluoromethyl-[1,2-2H4]-choline ([18F]D4FCH)) was transitioned into volunteers and patients to study its pharmacokinetics and preliminary diagnostic potential. This tracer embodies deuterium isotope substitution as a means to discourage systemic metabolism. The radiotracer had favourable dosimetry (effective-dose: 0.025mSv/MBq) and safety. Preliminary results in non-small cell lung cancer showed that the tracer is taken up in tumours. Further studies are warranted to characterise this new tracer in different tumour types. As a prelude to imaging cancer cell death in tumours, a caspase-3 specific radiotracer, [18F](S)-1-((1-(2-fluoroethyl)-1H-[1,2,3]-triazol-4-yl)methyl)-5-(2(2,4- difluorophenoxymethyl)-pyrrolidine-1-sulfonyl) isatin ([18F]ICMT-11) was also transitioned into volunteers. The radiotracer had favourable dosimetry (effective-dose: 0.025mSv/MBq) and safety. In summary, FLT-PET/CT combined with KSF and [11C]choline PET/CT were shown to be promising methods for imaging early treatment response in patients. Further work will be required to evaluate the clinical relevance of these data in terms of overall patient outcome. Furthermore, a new choline-based radiotracer and a caspase-3 specific radiotracer have been transitioned into humans.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Oct-2013
Date Awarded: Feb-2014
Supervisor: Aboagye, Eric
Sponsor/Funder: Medical Research Council (Great Britain)
Cancer Research UK
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Department: Surgery & Cancer
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Department of Surgery and Cancer PhD Theses

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