A trial looking at a new injection to improve scans to diagnose prostate cancer

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer




Phase 1

This trial found out more about a combination of substances (a compound) that may be used in future in scans to diagnose prostate cancer. The treatment you have for cancer depends on how far it has grown or spread when you are diagnosed (the stage). So it is important that tests or scans give doctors as much information as possible. Scientists have developed a compound called ‘99mTcDB4’, which they hoped would show up prostate cancer more clearly on a scan. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

DB4 targets prostate cancer cells that carry a receptor Open a glossary item for ‘gastrin releasing peptide’ (GRP-R). Scientists attached a radioactive substance called ‘99mTechnetium’ to DB4. When doctors injected this into the bloodstream, the DB4 should have carried the radioactivity to the prostate cancer cells. The 99mTechnetium should have shown the position of these cells by giving off a small amount of radiation. A gamma camera Open a glossary item was used to pick up the radiation and a computer to convert it into a picture.

Doctors already use 99mTechnetium in scans, but researchers had not tested this combination in people before. The aims of this trial were to see

  • If 99mTcDB4 had any side effects and if so, how best to manage them
  • How 99mTcDB4 acted in the body and how quickly the body removed it
  • How much 99mTcDB4 was absorbed by the body and how much of it doctors could see using the gamma camera
  • How well 99mTcDB4 showed up prostate cancer compared to scans used at the moment

Summary of results

The study team found that 99mTcDB4 showed up early prostate cancer that hadn’t been treated but not prostate cancer that had been treated.

Everyone who took part in this study had an injection of 99mTcDB4 and a number of scans.

The study team intended to recruit about 50 men. But recruitment didn’t go as well as they thought it would. So a decision was made to stop the study early. At that time 10 men were recruited into the study.

Of the 10 men recruited, 8 had 99mTcDB4. Of these 8 men

  • 2 had early prostate cancer that hadn’t yet been treated
  • 6 had prostate cancer that had spread to another part of the body and were having treatment for their prostate cancer

The study team looked at the scans of the men’s prostate glands to check for 99mTcDB4. They found it had collected only in the prostate of the 2 men who hadn’t yet been treated.  

The study team compared the scans that had used 99mTcDB4 to the CT scans and bone scans to find out where the men’s prostate cancer had spread to. They found there was no additional benefit using 99mTcDB4.

The men taking part in the study didn’t have any severe side effects. For a few of them their blood pressure and heart rate did increase when they had 99mTcDB4. The cause of this may have been the compound.       

The study team concluded that 99mTcDB4 was only taken up by the prostate gland of men who hadn’t had treatment. CT scans and bone scans were better than 99mTcDB4 to show where prostate cancer had spread to in the body.        

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Norbert Avril

Supported by

Cancer Research UK (Centre for Drug Development)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUKD/09/043.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 678

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

Last reviewed:

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