Jeffrey Leyton, PhD

Department of Nuclear Medicine and Radiobiology, Université de Sherbrooke

An advanced development in targeted radiation against muscle invasive migrating bladder cancer cells

Jeffrey Leyton and co-workers
Jeffrey Leyton and co-workers

Bladder cancer affects thousands of Canadians on an annual basis. Unfortunately, bladder cancer remains one of the most difficult cancers to manage. The treatment options currently available to patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer have remained essentially unchanged. For patients with advanced or metastatic disease, bladder cancer is lethal within 2 years.

Jeffrey Leyton, PhD, recipient of a 2014 Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award, and his lab team, from left to right: Andreanne Rondeau, Simon Beaudoin, Oliver Martel, Laurent Fafard-Couture.

Identifying and treating muscle invasive bladder cancer is the primary challenge. Specialized cells that become highly mobile cause tumour spread. The cell surface protein IL-5Rα is a marker of highly mobile invasive bladder cancer cells. Our research is to develop IL-5Rα-specific probes that can deliver enhanced quantities of radionuclides inside migrating bladder cancer cells to provide for better visualization and treatment of muscle invasive bladder cancer. The endocytic pathway is the major uptake mechanism of cells for our class of radioactive probes. These probes are quickly degraded and flushed once inside cells. We have devised new designs to address this issue and give these probes the ability to escape degradation. Thus, our main objective is to generate anti-IL-5Rα probes that will accumulate sufficient amounts of suitable radionuclides that can be used to provide highly specific imaging of migrating bladder cancer cells or deliver lethal blows of radiation without causing harm to non-target tissue. This will greatly aid physicians to detect and treat cases of muscle invasive bladder cancer.