Knowing whether a drug is actually penetrating a tumor can help decide whether to have the patient continue receiving the medication or to switch to a different one. Currently, only visualizing the tumor shrinkage long after the side effects have kicked in lets doctors know about the therapeutic response. Now an international team of researchers is reporting on a new imaging technique that can spot whether certain cancer drugs are actually ending up in the desired parts of the body.
Aminobisphosphonates are a type of drugs used in bone cancer, having an affinity for metal ions. The researchers were able to attach labels to these drugs that can be visualized using a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. They did the same with doxorubicin, a popular cancer chemo agent that can be encapsulated within liposomes for targeted delivery.
Testing the technology, the investigators imaged the tagged drugs within laboratory mice and saw their concentrations within tumors. Interestingly, in one mouse strain the meds made it in large doses into the uterus, pointing to how the new technique would be practical in assessing a drug’s performance in human patients.