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FSH receptor and imaging of extracapsular prostate cancer

Posted Oct 21 2010 12:00am

An article by a French and American research team in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that it may be possible to target follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) receptor in the early detection of prostate cancer that is not organ-confined.

The report by Radu et al. explains how they were able to use FSH-receptor-specific monoclonal antibodies to bind to tumor samples from patients with many different types of cancer, specifically including prostate cancer. What is not yet entirely clear is the sensitivity of this method to detect the very earliest extraprostatic tumors.

The implication is that by attaching imaging agents to FSH-receptor-specific monoclonal antibodies, it would be possible to use techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to selectively identify tumors growing outside the prostate.  However, FSH is expressed primarily in endothelial cells, and so a tumor would have to have developed a sufficient number of endothelial cells to express sufficient FSH receptor for the monoclonal antibodies to bind in actual patients.

This paper is interesting from a scientific point of view, but a lot of work will be needed before we know whether it can lead to a clinically practical mechanism to improve early imaging of extracapsular prostate cancer. The research is also discussed in articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , on MedPage Today , and on HealthDay .

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