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PyL – PSMA Targeted PET Imaging Agent


PyL (also known as [18F]DCFPyL) s a clinical-stage, fluorinated PSMA-targeted PET imaging agent for prostate cancer that was discovered and developed at the Center for Translational Molecular Imaging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A proof-of-concept study published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Molecular Imaging and Biology showed that PET imaging with PyL showed high levels of PyL uptake in sites of putative metastatic disease and primary tumors, suggesting the potential for high sensitivity and specificity in detecting prostate cancer.


Medical imaging is a non-invasive means of obtaining a picture of the internal structure and workings of the human body. Currently, the most common methods of visualizing disease provide images of anatomy and include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), fluoroscopy, Computed Axial Tomography (CAT scan or CT scan), X-ray, and ultrasound. These methods have limited utility in patients at early stages of disease when gross anatomical changes are not yet evident, in patients who have undergone surgical procedures to treat their disease and anatomy is difficult to assess, or in patients who have systemic disease where the precise locations are unknown.

Molecular imaging differs from anatomical medical imaging in that radioactive drugs are used to detect disease through visualization of physiology and biochemistry, giving physicians’ better insight into the disease process. This is markedly different from anatomical imaging and has opened up additional applications for detecting the presence, location and quantity of disease throughout the body. Such images provide vital information related to the diagnosis and extent of disease, prognosis and, ultimately, therapeutic management options.


Progenics is developing radiolabeled small molecules that bind to specific receptors, enzymes and proteins in the body that are altered during the evolution of disease. After administration to a patient, these molecules circulate in the blood until they find their intended target. The bound radiopharmaceutical remains at the site of disease, while the rest of the agent clears rapidly from the body. The radioactive portion of the molecule serves as a beacon so that an image may be obtained depicting the disease location and concentration using commonly available nuclear medicine cameras, known as single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) cameras, found in most hospitals throughout the world. Physicians can then use this information to determine the presence and the extent of disease in a patient, resulting in optimal patient and disease management.