First-in-Human Assessment of cRGD-ZW800-1, a Zwitterionic, Integrin-Targeted, Near-Infrared Fluorescent Peptide in Colon Carcinoma

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Aug 1;26(15):3990-3998. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-4156. Epub 2020 Apr 28.


Purpose: Incomplete oncologic resections and damage to vital structures during colorectal cancer surgery increases morbidity and mortality. Moreover, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy has become the standard treatment modality for locally advanced rectal cancer, where subsequent downstaging can make identification of the primary tumor more challenging during surgery. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging can aid surgeons by providing real-time visualization of tumors and vital structures during surgery.

Experimental design: We present the first-in-human clinical experience of a novel NIR fluorescent peptide, cRGD-ZW800-1, for the detection of colon cancer. cRGD-ZW800-1 was engineered to have an overall zwitterionic chemical structure and neutral charge to lower nonspecific uptake and thus background fluorescent signal. We performed a phase I study in 11 healthy volunteer as well as a phase II feasibility study in 12 patients undergoing an elective colon resection, assessing 0.005, 0.015, and 0.05 mg/kg cRGD-ZW800-1 for the intraoperative visualization of colon cancer.

Results: cRGD-ZW800-1 appears safe, and exhibited rapid elimination into urine after a single low intravenous dose. Minimal invasive intraoperative visualization of colon cancer through full-thickness bowel wall was possible after an intravenous bolus injection of 0.05 mg/kg at least 2 hours prior to surgery. Longer intervals between injection and imaging improved the tumor-to-background ratio.

Conclusions: cRGD-ZW800-1 enabled fluorescence imaging of colon cancer in both open and minimal invasive surgeries. Further development of cRGD-ZW800-1 for widespread use in cancer surgery may be warranted given the ubiquitous overexpression of various integrins on different types of tumors and their vasculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't