SOURCE: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

April 06, 2010 13:44 ET

OICR Invests in New Imaging Probe to Detect Breast Cancer Earlier

TORONTO--(Marketwire - April 6, 2010) -  The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced an investment toward the development of a radiolabelled insulin probe for the early detection of breast cancer.

The recipient of the investment award is John Valliant, PhD, associate professor of McMaster University. Improper insulin regulation is common in a number of diseases, including breast cancer. Dr. Valliant has developed a form of insulin that is labelled with technetium, a widely-used radioisotope. It can be injected into the bloodstream and used to track changes in insulin metabolism, helping to find and monitor tumors that currently are difficult to detect.

"Dr. Valliant's new method can provide a non-invasive alternative to detect breast cancer, particularly in women with small tumors or dense breast tissue," said Dr. Tom Hudson, president and scientific director of OICR. "This allows us to find and monitor the tumors that currently are the most difficult to see, and start treatment for patients earlier, when the likelihood of survival is much greater."

OICR will participate actively in efforts to commercialize the project by providing additional expertise and resources and by working collaboratively with McMaster University and
 Dr. Valliant.

OICR is a new centre of excellence, moving Ontario to the forefront of discovery and innovation in cancer research. OICR is making Ontario more effective in knowledge transfer and commercialization, to maximize health and economic benefits of research findings for the people of Ontario. For more information, please visit our website at


John Valliant, PhD
Associate Professor
McMaster University

Development of Radiolabelled Insulin Probe

There is a clinical need for better medical imaging agents and techniques to detect small breast tumors, particularly in women who have dense breasts. Dr. John Valliant at McMaster University is developing a medical imaging agent for monitoring changes in insulin in the body. Improper insulin regulation occurs in a number of diseases, including breast cancer. Dr. Valliant has developed a form of insulin that is labelled with technetium, the most widely used radioisotope in diagnostic medicine. Technetium-labelled insulin will be useful for non-invasive and early detection of breast cancer, and also for monitoring the impact of cancer therapy. The use of technetium will permit more widespread adoption of the insulin-based agent by allowing imaging with SPECT equipment, which is widely available in most hospitals. The funding from OICR will be used to create a single step instant kit so the insulin agent can be produced in a manner necessary to receive Health Canada approval for clinical trials and ultimately widespread distribution. The Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) at McMaster University ( will be involved in developing the commercial opportunity for the new agent.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jennifer Devine
    SmithSolve Communications Consulting
    On behalf of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
    973-442-1555 x102