Development of a theranostic – a combination of diagnostics and therapy – for prostate cancer

Enhanced imaging, through the use of biocompatible polymeric theranostic nanoparticles, will allow more accurate diagnosis, staging and decision making for men presenting with prostate cancer or on active surveillance programs.  It will help detect cancer surrounding the prostate gland; allow targeted drug delivery; and improve assessment of responses to treatment.

Head Researcher Professor Pamela Russell
Team Members
  • Prof Pamela J Russell QUT-IHBI
  • Dr Brian CW-E Tse, QUT-IHBI
  • Dr Kristopher Thurecht, UQ – AIBN/CAI
  • Dr Adrian Fuchs, UQ-AIBN
  • Ms Amanda Pearce (PhD pending) UQ-AIBN
  • Prof Andrew Whittaker (UQ-AIBN)
Body Part Prostate
Equipment Used 19F-MR and 64-Cu-PET imaging
Process Used The team generated biocompatible polymeric theranostic nanoparticles, functionalized for conjugation to glutamate urea that binds to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a prostate cancer (PCa)- specific molecule, for high sensitivity targeted molecular 19F-MR and 64-Cu-PET imaging. A degradable linker group within the polymers allows release of a toxic payload (chemotherapy, siRNA), upon uptake into PCa cells, decreasing treatment side effects.
Research Areas Imaging
Disease Cancer
Tags Theranostics, nanoparticles 
Commercial Partnerships  
Institutions University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology

About the Project

Prostate cancer (PCa) occurs in around a million men a year with 260,000 succumbing to this disease. The prostate specific antigen test used for early detection, despite a 60 per cent false positive rate, results in unnecessary biopsies and potential complications. Together with the long natural history of PCa, this creates a highly significant healthcare burden.

It remains unclear at diagnosis whether a man has indolent or significant PCa and metastatic lymph node involvement. New techniques such as mp MRI are reported to indicate if significant PCa is present but cannot stage the disease.

The use of MR PET with Professor Russell’s team’s theranostic may further improve imaging, and allow staging. This could reduce repeated biopsies for men on active surveillance programs, and indicate when to start treatment.

New therapies have evolved for patients with advanced PCa, but uncertainty exists about how these should be sequenced, and if combination would help. Side effects remain a problem and studies show that strong anti-androgen therapy (MDV3100) can lead to trans differentiation to a neuroendocrine PCa, requiring different chemotherapy.

Combination therapies can be built in to the targeted theranostics.

Translation will decrease the need for prostatic biopsies, help in decision making for Prostate cancer management, enable detection of oligo metastases, where the cancer has spread outside the gland but not to the rest of the body, which are treatable by stereotactic radiation, and allow targeted drug delivery with decreased side effects and responses to treatment to be monitored.

This will improve the quality of life of patients, and substantially ease the healthcare burden from Prostate Cancer. 

Translational Research - Milestone T1

Currently completing the research needed to obtain the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval to proceed to the clinic.  Andrew Whittaker and KrisThurecht (at UQ –AIBN/CAI) have patented the use of the theranostics but not specifically for prostate cancer.

The team plan to experiment with MR PET imaging of animals in the near future which could lead to clinical trials.

> For more information on this project, please contact Professor Pamela Russell at [email protected]

Head Researcher Professor Pamela Russell