Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cellectar Biosciences Inc. have exploited differences in lipid architecture between cancer and normal cells to create compounds that deliver radiolabels selectively to different types of malignant cells while sparing healthy ones.1
The group has started multiple clinical trials of its agents for imaging, radiotherapy and intraoperative tumor margin detection.
Cancer cells were first shown to differ in lipid uptake from normal cells over four decades ago through studies on phospholipid ethers.2-4 About 20 years later, researchers at the University of Michigan looked for imaging uses of the findings by investigating how chemical alterations of aryl phospholipid ethers and alkylphosphocholines affected the compounds' uptake and retention in tumors.5-7
Those studies were led by Raymond Counsell and his graduate students, including Jamey Weichert. In 2006, the duo developed the tumor imaging agent