Prostate cancer generally begins as hormone-sensitive adenocarcinoma, a disease that can be treated by reducing the body’s production of testosterone and other hormones. The cancer can evolve and become resistant to the treatment. A second line of therapy can be used, but the cancer can evolve further into an even more aggressive form. Zeroing in on a specific protein associated with the disease, the research team is developing a pair of probes that attach themselves to the protein, allowing doctors to distinguish between prostate cancer that is hormone sensitive and prostate cancer that has become resistant to treatment.
The agents the team is developing would fluoresce under near-infrared light. Doctors could use a lamp that emits such light during colonoscopies to detect the agents. Diagnoses would be more precise and wait times shorter than with current imaging, which uses positron emission tomography, commonly referred to as PET scans.