World first trial for new bladder cancer imaging scan to be presented in US

Details of a trial that has the potential to change the way the extent of spread of bladder cancer is determined will be presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, the world’s leading professional organisation for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer.

“We already have the first patients in this important diagnostic study which, in the future, has the potential to develop into a new therapy and ultimately change the way that bladder cancer is treated.”

Professor Dickon Hayne

Professor of Urology at The University of Western Australia Dickon Hayne will present details of the ZipUp trial, a ground-breaking new PET scan to detect localised and metastatic bladder cancer that is being tested at Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“Bladder cancer is a lethal disease with a rising incidence,” Professor Hayne said. “More than 2,500 Australians are diagnosed each year and it’s the only major cancer in Australia with a five-year survival rate that has declined in the past 20 years.

“The problem is, you can’t treat cancer unless you know what it is and where it is. Whether you’re talking about bladder cancer, breast cancer, or any type of cancer, you need to know the grade and stage.

“Grade, from a biopsy, describes how abnormal the cancer cells and tissue look under a microscope and stage is how far the cancer has gone. This new scan will help determine the stage.”

Professor Hayne, a leading consultant urological surgeon and Head of Urology for South Metropolitan Health service in WA, said one of the major challenges in oncology was getting the staging right so that the correct treatment can be provided.

“CT scans pass X-Rays through the body to create images. Standard PET scans, in addition to a CT scan, also involve injecting some radioactive glucose, called FDG (flurodeoxyglucose), which emits energy that is detected by the PET scanner,” Professor Hayne said.

“The trouble when it comes to bladder cancer is that FDG is predominantly excreted in the urine, which limits its ability to detect cancer in the urinary tract.”

Professor Hayne said the ZipUp trial involves a new molecule developed by the Australian-based biotech company Telix Pharmaceuticals. It consists of an antibody called girentuximab, that ‘sticks’ to the cancer, attached to the radioactive substance Zirconium that allows surgeons to see it is on a scan.

“This molecule could be great for imaging the urinary tract because it’s broken down in the liver and doesn’t get excreted in the urine,” Professor Hayne said.

“We already have the first patients in this important diagnostic study which, in the future, has the potential to develop into a new therapy and ultimately change the way that bladder cancer is treated.”

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