Hyperpolarized Magnetic Resonance Zinc Probes for Prostate Cancer Detection and Risk Stratification

Summer 2018

Andrew Hong : Chemistry

Mentor: Robert Flavell

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common noncutaneous cancer in men and presents with a heterogeneous disease course ranging from indolent to rapidly progressive, fatal disease. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging are important for differentiating between these phenotypes and selecting appropriate patients for treatments. Although low zinc concentration in malignant prostate tissue has been identified as a biomarker for the presence of and aggressiveness of PCa, there is no method for imaging zinc biodistribution in routine clinical use. One solution is hyperpolarized magnetic resonance spectroscopy (HP-MRS), which allows for non-invasive in vivo imaging with excellent sensitivity. Based on preliminary studies, 13C labeled 2-picolinic acid is a promising hyperpolarized zinc probe, so I propose to synthesize derivatives of that compound and evaluate their ability to image zinc in vitro as well as in vivo in a murine model of PCa. These probes may improve PCa detection and ultimately serve as indicators for PCa risk stratification.

I am very grateful to the Rose Hills Foundation for providing me with the opportunity to focus on research full-time this past summer. Thanks to the fellowship, I gained a much clearer understanding of preclinical imaging tools. More broadly, I learned how to think more critically, strengthened my troubleshooting skills and gained the intellectual confidence to brainstorm new scientific ideas. Thus, my SURF experience has helped me develop into a better scientist and wiser person. Ultimately, this fellowship has solidified my desire to pursue a career in academic medicine.