Preclinical Evaluation of a High-Affinity Sarcophagine-Containing PSMA Ligand for 64Cu/67Cu-Based Theranostics in Prostate Cancer

James M. Kelly, Shashikanth Ponnala, Alejandro Amor-Coarasa, Nicholas A. Zia, Anastasia Nikolopoulou, Anastasia Nikolopoulou, Clarence Williams, David J. Schlyer, David J. Schlyer, Stephen G. Dimagno, Paul S. Donnelly, John W. Babich, John W. Babich, John W. Babich, John W. Babich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The application of small molecules targeting prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) has emerged as a highly promising clinical strategy for visualization and treatment of prostate cancer. Ligands that integrate the ability to both quantify the distribution of radioactivity and treat disease through the use of a matched pair of radionuclides have particular value in clinical and regulatory settings. In this study, we describe the development and preclinical evaluation of RPS-085, a ligand that binds PSMA and serum albumin and exploits the 64/67Cu radionuclide pair for prostate cancer theranostics. RPS-085 was synthesized by conjugation of a PSMA-targeting moiety, an Nϵ-(2-(4-iodophenyl)acetyl)lysine albumin binding group, and a bifunctionalized MeCOSar chelator. The IC50 of the metal-free RPS-085 was determined in a competitive binding assay. The affinity for human serum albumin of the radiolabeled compound was determined by high-performance affinity chromatography. Radiolabeling was performed in NH4OAc buffer at 25 °C. The stability of the radiolabeled compounds was assessed in vitro and in vivo. The biodistribution of [64/67Cu]Cu-RPS-085 was determined following intravenous administration to male BALB/c mice bearing LNCaP tumor xenografts. The radiochemical yields of [64/67Cu]Cu-RPS-085 were nearly quantitative after 20 min. The metal-free complex is a potent inhibitor of PSMA (IC50 = 29 ± 2 nM), and the radiolabeled compound has moderate affinity for human serum albumin (Kd = 9.9 ± 1.7 μM). Accumulation of the tracer in mice was primarily evident in tumor and kidneys. Activity in all other tissues, including blood, was negligible, and the radiolabeled compounds demonstrated high stability in vitro and in vivo. Tumor activity reached a maximum at 4 h post injection (p.i.) and cleared gradually over a period of 96 h. By contrast, activity in the kidney cleared rapidly from 4 to 24 h p.i. As a consequence, by 24 h p.i., the tumor-to-kidney ratio exceeds 2, and the predicted dose to tumors is significantly greater than the dose to kidneys. [64Cu]Cu-RPS-085 combines rapid tissue distribution and clearance with prolonged retention in LNCaP tumor xenografts. The pharmacokinetics should enable radioligand therapy using [67Cu]Cu-RPS-085. By virtue of its rapid kidney clearance, the therapeutic index of [67Cu]Cu-RPS-085 likely compares favorably to its parent structure, [177Lu]Lu-RPS-063, a highly avid PSMA-targeting compound. On this basis, [64/67Cu]Cu-RPS-085 show great promise as PSMA-targeting theranostic ligands for prostate cancer imaging and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1962
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • PSMA
  • copper-67
  • positron emission tomography
  • prostate cancer
  • theranostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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