Scientific Highlights

12 April 2013

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DOTA conjugate with an albumin-binding entity enables the first folic acid–targeted 177Lu-radionuclide tumor therapy in mice

Research Division Biology and Chemistry (BIO), Folate Receptor Targeting Group, Head Cristina Müller The folate receptor (FR) has proven a valuable target for nuclear imaging using folic acid radioconjugates. However, using folate-based radiopharmaceuticals for therapy has long been regarded as an unattainable goal because of their considerable renal accumulation. Herein, we present a novel strategy in which a DOTA–folate conjugate with an albumin-binding entity (cm09) was designed with the aim of prolonging circulation in the blood and therewith potentially improving tumor-to-kidney ratios. Methods: The folate conjugate cm09 was radiolabeled with 177LuCl3, and stability experiments were performed in plasma. Cell uptake studies were performed on FR-positive KB tumor cells, and an ultrafiltration assay was used to determine the plasma protein–binding properties of 177Lu-cm09. In vivo, 177Lu-cm09 was tested in KB tumor–bearing mice using SPECT/CT. The therapeutic anticancer effect of 177Lu-cm09 (20 MBq) applied as a single injection or as fractionated injections was investigated in different groups of mice (n = 5) by monitoring tumor size and the survival time of treated mice, compared with untreated controls. Results: Compound cm09 was radiolabeled at a specific activity of 40 MBq/nmol, a radiochemical yield of more than 98%, and a stability of more than 99% over 5 d in plasma. Ultrafiltration revealed significant binding of 177Lu-cm09 to serum proteins (∼91%) in plasma, compared with folate radioconjugate without an albumin-binding entity. Cell uptake and internalization of 177Lu-cm09 was FR-specific and comparable to other folate radioconjugates. In vivo studies resulted in high tumor uptake (17.56 percentage injected dose per gram [%ID/g] at 4 h after injection), which was almost completely retained for at least 72 h. Renal accumulation was significantly reduced (28 %ID/g at 4 h after injection), compared with folate conjugates that lack an albumin-binding entity (∼70 %ID/g at 4 h after injection). These circumstances enabled SPECT imaging of excellent quality. Radionuclide therapy (1 × 20 MBq) revealed complete remission of tumors in 4 of 5 cases and a significantly prolonged survival time, compared with untreated controls. Conclusion: The modification of a folate radioconjugate with an albumin-binding entity resulted in a significant increase of the tumor-to-kidney ratio of radioactivity, enabling for the first time, to our knowledge, the preclinical application of folic acid–targeted radionuclide therapy in mice.

1 June 2012

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Efficacy of a novel 177Lu-chCE7 radioimmunotherapeutic agent for disseminated ovarian cancer therapy

Research Division Biology and Chemistry (BIO), Center for Radiopharmaceutical Sciences,Tumor Targeting Group, Head Eliane Fischer. The L1-cell adhesion molecule is highly expressed in various cancer types including ovarian carcinoma but is absent from most normal tissue. A chimeric monoclonal antibody, chCE7, specifically binds to human L1-CAM and exhibits anti-proliferative effects on L1-CAM-expressing tumor cells. The goal of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a novel 177Lu-chCE7 radioimmunotherapeutic agent and to compare it to a treatment protocol with unlabeled, growth-inhibiting chCE7 in a mouse xenograft model of disseminated ovarian cancer. chCE7agl,an aglycosylated IgG1 variant with improved pharmacokinetics, was conjugated with 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N-N′-N′-N‴-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) and labeled with the low-energy β-emitter 177Lu. Tumor growth and survival were assessed after a single i.v. dose of 8 MBq (60 μg) radioimmunoconjugate in nude mice bearing either subcutaneous or intraperitoneal SKOV3.ip1 human ovarian cancer tumors. Therapeutic efficacy was compared with three times weekly i.p. administration of 10 mg/kg unconjugated chCE7. In vivo analysis of 177Lu-chCE7agl biodistribution demonstrated high and specific accumulation of radioactivity at the tumor site with maximal tumor uptake of up to 48.0 ± 8.1% ID/g at 168 h postinjection. A single treatment with 177Lu-DOTA-chCE7agl caused significant retardation of tumor growth and prolonged median survival from 33 to 71 days, while administration of a nontargeted 177Lu-immunoconjugate had no beneficial effect. Three times weekly i.p. application of unlabeled chCE7 10 mg/kg similarly increased survival from 44 to 72 days. We conclude that a single dose of 177Lu-DOTA-chCE7agl is as effective as repeated administration of nonradioactive chCE7 for treatment of small intraperitoneal tumors expressing L1-CAM.

20 April 2011

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The low-energy β− and electron emitter 161Tb as an alternative to 177Lu for targeted radionuclide therapy

Research Division Biology and Chemistry (BIO), Radionuclicde Development Group, Head Konstantin Zhernosekov. The low-energy β− emitter 161Tb is very similar to 177Lu with respect to half-life, beta energy and chemical properties. However, 161Tb also emits a significant amount of conversion and Auger electrons. Greater therapeutic effect can therefore be expected in comparison to 177Lu. It also emits low-energy photons that are useful for gamma camera imaging. The 160Gd(n,γ)161Gd→161Tb production route was used to produce 161Tb by neutron irradiation of massive 160Gd targets (up to 40 mg) in nuclear reactors. A semiautomated procedure based on cation exchange chromatography was developed and applied to isolate no carrier added (n.c.a.) 161Tb from the bulk of the 160Gd target and from its stable decay product 161Dy. 161Tb was used for radiolabeling DOTA-Tyr3-octreotate; the radiolabeling profile was compared to the commercially available n.c.a. 177Lu. A 161Tb Derenzo phantom was imaged using a small-animal single-photon emission computed tomography camera. Up to 15 GBq of 161Tb was produced by long-term irradiation of Gd targets. Using a cation exchange resin, we obtained 80%–90% of the available 161Tb with high specific activity, radionuclide and chemical purity and in quantities sufficient for therapeutic applications. The 161Tb obtained was of the quality required to prepare 161Tb–DOTA-Tyr3-octreotate. We were able to produce 161Tb in n.c.a. form by irradiating highly enriched 160Gd targets; it can be obtained in the quantity and quality required for the preparation of 161Tb-labeled therapeutic agents.