Prostate-specific membrane antigen targeted imaging and therapy of prostate cancer using a PSMA inhibitor as a homing ligand

Sumith A. Kularatne, Kevin Wang, Hari Krishna R. Santhapuram, Philip Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Prostate cancer (PCa) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in Western society today. Current methods for detecting PCa are limited, leaving most early malignancies undiagnosed and sites of metastasis in advanced disease undetected. Major deficiencies also exist in the treatment of PCa, especially metastatic disease. In an effort to improve both detection and therapy of PCa, we have developed a PSMA-targeted ligand that delivers attached imaging and therapeutic agents selectively to PCa cells without targeting normal cells. The PSMA-targeted radioimaging agent (DUPA-99mTc) was found to bind PSMA-positive human PCa cells (LNCaP cell line) with nanomolar affinity (K D = 14 nM). Imaging and biodistribution studies revealed that DUPA-99mTc localizes primarily to LNCaP cell tumor xenografts in nu/nu mice (% injected dose/gram = 11.3 at 4 h postinjection; tumor-to-muscle ratio = 75:1). Two PSMA-targeted optical imaging agents (DUPA-FITC and DUPA-rhodamine B) were also shown to efficiently label PCa cells and to internalize and traffic to intracellular endosomes. A PSMA-targeted chemotherapeutic agent (DUPA-TubH) was demonstrated to kill PSMA-positive LNCaP cells in culture (IC50 = 3 nM) and to eliminate established tumor xenografts in nu/nu mice with no detectable weight loss. Blockade of tumor targeting upon administration of excess PSMA inhibitor (PMPA) and the absence of targeting to PSMA-negative tumors confirmed the specificity of each of the above targeted reagents for PSMA. Tandem use of the imaging and therapeutic agents targeted to the same receptor could allow detection, staging, monitoring, and treatment of PCa with improved accuracy and efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)780-789
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Chemotherapy for prostate cancer
  • Diagnosis of prostate cancer
  • Prostate-specific membrane antigen
  • PSMA-targeted imaging and therapy
  • Radioimaging and optical imaging of prostate cancer
  • Tubulysin prodrug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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