Research ArticleCancer Imaging

Targeted Imaging of Esophageal Neoplasia with a Fluorescently Labeled Peptide: First-in-Human Results

Science Translational Medicine  08 May 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 184, pp. 184ra61
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004733

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Abstract

Esophageal adenocarcinoma is rising rapidly in incidence and usually develops from Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor condition commonly found in patients with chronic acid reflux. Premalignant lesions are challenging to detect on conventional screening endoscopy because of their flat appearance. Molecular changes can be used to improve detection of early neoplasia. We have developed a peptide that binds specifically to high-grade dysplasia and adenocarcinoma. We first applied the peptide ex vivo to esophageal specimens from 17 patients to validate specific binding. Next, we performed confocal endomicroscopy in vivo in 25 human subjects after topical peptide administration and found 3.8-fold greater fluorescence intensity for esophageal neoplasia compared with Barrett’s esophagus and squamous epithelium with 75% sensitivity and 97% specificity. No toxicity was attributed to the peptide in either animal or patient studies. Therefore, our first-in-human results show that this targeted imaging agent is safe and may be useful for guiding tissue biopsy and for early detection of esophageal neoplasia and potentially other cancers of epithelial origin, such as bladder, colon, lung, pancreas, and stomach.

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