Imaging probes that specifically target tumors can provide more sensitive and relevant information about the tumor compared to conventional, non-specific probes. Additionally, targeted probes can improve tumor detection, characterization, therapy stratification, and enhance selective delivery of anti-cancer drugs. A major limitation to the clinical use of such agents is their large size, which restricts their delivery to the tumor. Further, many tumors are characterized by altered permeability of tumor-associated blood vessels and increased fluid pressure within the tumors themselves, both of which prevent uptake of imaging agents. In this issue of JCI Insight, Heike Daldrup-Link of Stanford University and colleagues demonstrate that pre-treatment with an activin-like kinase 5 (Alk5) inhibitor enhances tumor-specific delivery of the contrast agent ferumoxytol. Their findings indicate that Alk5 inhibitors could be used to improve tumor imaging to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of solid tumors.
Alk5 inhibition increases delivery of macromolecular and protein-bound contrast agents to tumors
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