SAHMRI in world-first cancer scan innovation

10 Apr 2019
SAHMRI in world-first cancer scan innovation

South Australian prostate cancer patients can now access a world-first better diagnostic scan that can lead to more targeted treatment after SAHMRI won a licence to make a new tracer that searches the entire body for evidence the cancer has spread. 

The Molecular Imaging and Therapy Research Unit (MITRU), home of the cyclotron, is the first to be granted a Therapeutic Goods Administration licence to manufacture the fluorinated PSMA for clinical use. Unit director Prab Takhar, pictured, says that when PSMA, which stands for prostate specific membrane antigen and is a substance found only on prostate cancer cells, is attached to a radioactive tracer such as fluorine-18 or gallium-68, the compound searches the body and “lights up where these cancer cells are hiding”. 

He said the new fluorinated PSMA surpasses galliumPSMA as the cutting-edge of diagnosis for prostate cancer, because it lasts longer and therefore travels further around the body to detect the extent to which cancer has spread.

“We scan the whole body, looking for where the cancer is, rather than just focusing around the prostate area and simply assuming it's there,” he said. “Now with this new fluorinated version we can wait longer for uptake by these cancer cells, cells that are also excreting the PSA detected in the common blood test, where it attaches and then sends out a beacon with its location. “Once it tells you where it is, you can say ‘OK, what are we going to do about that?’ It gives urologists more information.” 

South Terrace Urology’s Dr Peter Sutherland said the new technology “makes a huge difference” to patient treatment.

This article was reproduced with permission from The Advertiser.