Berkman-CSEATTLE – An imaging agent discovered by a Washington State University researcher that homes in on prostate cancer will be developed for human clinical trials thanks to a two-year $2 million federal Small Business Innovation Research grant.

“Prostate cancer desperately needs a new means of diagnosis that removes ambiguity and offers men informed treatment options,” said Beatrice Langton-Webster, principal investigator on the grant and chief executive officer of Cancer Targeted Technology (CTT), a privately held Seattle-based biotechnology firm that will develop the agent, CTT1057.

CTT1057 was discovered by Cliff Berkman, professor of chemistry at WSU and CTT chief scientific officer. A positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent, it will help diagnose and monitor metastatic prostate cancer.

Unlike other prostate cancer targeting agents, CTT1057 is a small molecule that homes in and binds irreversibly to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) that is overexpressed in prostate cancer. It can be loaded with a variety of radionuclides and chemotherapies to specifically and safely guide imaging nuclides and treatments to PSMA-expressing prostate cancer.

In 2014, CTT received a key grant from the state Life Sciences Discovery Fund to advance CTT1057. Subsequently, CTT filed an investigational new drug application for the human clinical trial. Under the SBIR grant, CTT will work with contractors and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco to conduct initial clinical trials with 18F-labeled CTT1057 at the end of the year.

“We believe that this important agent will improve the availability and efficacy of imaging for prostate cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment monitoring,” said Henry VanBrocklin, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at UC San Francisco.