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Keywords:

  • antisense;
  • breast cancer;
  • chelators;
  • conjugates;
  • gene expression;
  • hybridization;
  • imaging;
  • noninvasive;
  • oligonucleotides;
  • oncogenes;
  • pancreatic cancer;
  • peptides;
  • positron emission;
  • radionuclides;
  • scintigraphy;
  • tumors

Abstract: In 2005, breast cancer will kill approximately 40,410 women in the U.S., and pancreatic cancer will kill approximately 31,800 men and women in the U.S. Clinical examination and mammography, the currently accepted breast cancer screening methods, miss almost half of breast cancers in women younger than 40 years, approximately one-quarter of cancers in women aged 40-49 years, and one-fifth of cancers in women over 50 years old. Pancreatic cancer progresses rapidly, with only 1% of patients surviving more than 5 years after diagnosis. However, if the disease is diagnosed when it is localized, the 5-year survival is approximately 20%. It would be beneficial to detect breast cancer and pancreatic cancer at the earliest possible stage, when multimodal therapy with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy have the greatest chance of prolonging survival. Human estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells typically display elevated levels of Myc protein due to overexpression of MYC mRNA, elevated cyclin D1 protein due to overexpression of CCND1 mRNA, and elevated insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) due to overexpression of IGF1R mRNA. We hypothesized that scintigraphic detection of MYC or CCND1 peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes with an IGF1 peptide loop on the C-terminus, and a Tc-99m-chelator peptide on the N-terminus, could measure levels of MYC or CCND1 mRNA noninvasively in human IGF1R-overexpressing MCF7 breast cancer xenografts in immunocompromised mice. Similarly, human pancreatic cancer cells typically display elevated levels of KRAS mRNA and elevated IGF1R. Hence, we also hypothesized that a KRAS Tc-99m-chelator PNA-peptide probe could detect overexpression of KRAS mRNA in pancreatic cancer xenografts by scintigraphic imaging, or by positron emission tomography (PET) with a KRAS Cu-64-chelator PNA-peptide. Human MCF7 breast cancer xenografts in immunocompromised mice were imaged scintigraphically 4-24 h after tail-vein administration of MYC or CCND1 Tc-99m-chelator PNA-peptides, but not after administration of mismatch controls. Similarly, human Panc-1 pancreatic cancer cells xenografts were imaged scintigraphically 4 and 24 h after tail-vein administration of a KRAS Tc-99m-chelator PNA-peptide, and AsPC1 xenografts were imaged by PET 4 and 24 h after tail-vein adminstration of a KRAS Cu-64-chelator PNA-peptide. The radioprobes distributed normally to the kidneys, livers, tumors, and other tissues. External molecular imaging of oncogene mRNAs in solid tumors with radiolabel-PNA-peptide chimeras might in the future provide additional genetic characterization of pre-invasive and invasive breast cancers.