Discovery of Furanone-Based Radiopharmaceuticals for Diagnostic Targeting of COX-1 in Ovarian Cancer

ACS Omega. 2019 May 31;4(5):9251-9261. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.9b01093. Epub 2019 May 24.


In vivo targeting and visualization of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) using multimodal positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging represents a unique opportunity for early detection and/or therapeutic evaluation of ovarian cancer because overexpression of COX-1 has been characterized as a pathologic hallmark of the initiation and progression of this disease. The furanone core is a common building block of many synthetic and natural products that exhibit a wide range of biological activities. We hypothesize that furanone-based COX-1 inhibitors can be designed as imaging agents for the early detection, delineation of tumor margin, and evaluation of treatment response of ovarian cancer. We report the discovery of 3-(4-fluorophenyl)-5,5-dimethyl-4-(p-tolyl)furan-2(5H)-one (FDF), a furanone-based novel COX-1-selective inhibitor that exhibits adequate in vivo stability, plasma half-life, and pharmacokinetic properties for use as an imaging agent. We describe a novel synthetic scheme in which a Lewis acid-catalyzed nucleophilic aromatic deiodo[18F]fluorination reaction is utilized for the radiosynthesis of [18F]FDF. [18F]FDF binds efficiently to COX-1 in vivo and enables sensitive detection of ovarian cancer in subcutaneous and peritoneal xenograft models in mice. These results provide the proof of principle for COX-1-targeted imaging of ovarian cancer and identify [18F]FDF as a promising lead compound for further preclinical and clinical development.