This article was originally published here
Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 26:canres.2969.2020. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-2969. Online ahead of print.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, yet limited tools exist for prognostic risk stratification of the disease. Identification of new biomarkers representing intrinsic features of malignant transformation and development of prognostic imaging technologies are critical for improving treatment decisions and patient survival. In this study, we analyzed radical prostatectomy specimens from 422 patients with localized disease to define the expression pattern of methionine aminopeptidase II (MetAP2), a cytosolic metalloprotease that has been identified as a druggable target in cancer. MetAP2 was highly expressed in 54% of low-grade and 59% of high-grade cancer. Elevated levels of MetAP2 at diagnosis were associated with shorter time to recurrence. Controlled self-assembly of a synthetic small molecule enabled design of the first MetAP2-activated positron emission tomography (PET) imaging tracer for monitoring MetAP2 activity in vivo. The nanoparticles assembled upon MetAP2 activation were imaged in single prostate cancer cells with post-click fluorescent labeling. The fluorine-18 labeled tracers successfully differentiated MetAP2 activity in both MetAP2 knockdown and inhibitor-treated human prostate cancer xenografts by micro-PET/CT scanning. This highly sensitive imaging technology may provide a new tool for non-invasive early risk stratification of prostate cancer and monitoring the therapeutic effect of MetAP2 inhibitors as anti-cancer drugs.