A promising new discovery was made by UCLA scientists. Their discovery may lead to a new method of identifying cancer patients that display high levels of enzyme and are more likely to respond to cancer related treatments.

Decades of significant advances and improvements in PET imaging technology have led to the detection of an enzyme in humans that plays a significant role in DNA formation, the building blocks of life. The enzyme, called deoxycytidine kinase (dCK), was previously found to be highly expressed in acute leukemia cells and in activated lymphocytes and controls a critical step in the nucleoside salvage pathway, an important therapeutic and PET imaging target in cancer.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a noninvasive imaging technology that uses a radioactive substance, called PET probe, to look for disease in the body and it also shows how organs and tissues are functioning. Until recently, PET technology was only able to clearly detect dCK in mice due to metabolic instability of the previous probes and cross-reactivity with a dCK-related enzyme in humans.

The study will be published online March 28 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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