(19)
(11)EP 3 763 394 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
13.01.2021 Bulletin 2021/02

(21)Application number: 20193861.0

(22)Date of filing:  02.03.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A61K 51/08(2006.01)
C07B 59/00(2006.01)
A61K 51/04(2006.01)
A61K 103/00(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 03.03.2015 IL 23752515

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
16158323.2 / 3064224

(71)Applicant: Isotopia Molecular Imaging Ltd
49277 Petach Tikva (IL)

(72)Inventor:
  • SHALOM, Eli
    7579517 Rishon LeZyon (IL)

(74)Representative: ABG Intellectual Property Law, S.L. 
Avenida de Burgos, 16D Edificio Euromor
28036 Madrid
28036 Madrid (ES)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 01-09-2020 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)METHOD FOR LABELING A PROSTATE-SPECIFIC MEMBRANE ANTIGEN LIGAND WITH A RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPE


(57) The present invention relates to a method for labeling a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) ligand with a radioactive isotope such as 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y. Radiolabeled PSMA ligands prepared by this method can be used for both imaging and therapy purposes.


Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to a method for labeling a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) ligand with a radioactive isotope, and to a kit for carrying out this method. Radiolabeled PSMA ligands prepared by this method can be used for both imaging and therapy purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] Prostate cancer is the second most frequent cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in men worldwide. One of the key issues in treatment of this cancer is the detection of recurrent disease or metastases. In view of the fact that prostate cancer cells tend to spread to other organs such as the bones and lymph nodes, early detection of the primary prostate cancer tumor is highly desirable to prevent metastases formation, and furthermore, effective treatment strategies for prostate cancer metastases are urgently needed. Comprehensibly, targeting of prostate cancer or metastases thereof is a demanding task in the field of molecular imaging with positron emission tomography (PET), and targeted internal radiation therapy is a major challenge for all conventional imaging modalities. Although choline-based PET/CT is widely used for this purpose, there have been numerous studies reporting low sensitivity and specificity, especially when low PSMA levels are present in the inspected subject. Improved imaging of prostate cancer is thus necessary.

[0003] The cell surface protein PSMA, also known as glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCPII), is a membrane-type zinc protease that catalyzes the hydrolysis of N-acetyl-L-aspartyl-L-glutamate (NAAG) into the corresponding N-acetyl-L-aspartate (NAA) and
L-glutamate. PSMA was found to be significantly overexpressed in prostate cancer cells, and in particular in poorly differentiated, metastatic and hormone-refractory carcinomas, compared with other PSMA expressing tissues (e.g., the brain, kidney, salivary gland and the small intestine) where about 10-80 fold lower PSMA levels were detected. These findings make PSMA an ideal biological target for high quality PET imaging of prostate cancer as well as for prostate cancer therapy. Accordingly, different techniques have been developed for testing the level of PSMA, and radiolabeled PSMA tracers/ligands have been developed for imaging and targeted therapy purposes.

[0004] Based on the chemical structure of NAAG, several urea-based PSMA ligands (tracers; inhibitors), e.g., glutamate-urea-glutamate-based peptides bearing a 2-[3-(1,3-dicarboxypropyl)-ureido]pentanedioic acid (DUPA) moiety, were developed. Those molecules showed high affinity and specific binding to PSMA, as demonstrated in binding studies using PSMA expressing LNCaP cell lines, and differ mainly in the selection of the chelation agent used for the complexation of the desired radionuclide. Moreover, since the clearance of those molecules from the blood circulation is quite rapid, such urea-based PSMA inhibitors are considered as ideal biological PSMA tracers.

[0005] Different methods have been developed for labeling PSMA ligands with 68Ga to thereby obtain labeled PSMA ligands that can be used in PET imaging and in therapy. Initial experience with PET/CT using the 68Ga-labeled urea-based PSMA ligand 4,6,12,19-tetraazadocosane-1,3,7-tricarboxylic acid, 22-[3-[[[2-[[[5-(2-carboxyethyl)-2-hydroxyphenyl] methyl](carboxymethyl)amino]ethyl](carboxymethyl)amino]methyl]-4-hydroxyphenyl]-5,13,20-trioxo-(3S,7S)-trifluoroacetate salt, herein identified as DKFZ-PSMA-11 (see Table 1), as a prostate cancer cell tracer, suggests that this tracer can detect prostate cancer relapses and metastases with high contrast by specifically binding to the extracellular domain of PSMA on prostate cancer cells, followed by internalization. Initial clinical trials using 68Ga-labelled DKFZ-PSMA-11 have shown that this PSMA tracer detects prostate cancer relapses and metastases with higher contrast compared to the commonly used 18F-choline tracer. Moreover, even at low PSMA levels, PET/CT images obtained when using this tracer showed more prostate cancer lesions compared to PET/CT images obtained when 18F-choline was used.

[0006] In radio-metal therapy approaches, the application of 90Y and 177Lu is favored. The use of 90Y (Eβmax=2.3 MeV, t½=64 h) is more appropriate in the treatment of larger tumor lesions, while 177Lu (Eβmax=0.5 MeV, t½=6.7 d) is more suitable for the treatment of smaller lesions and metastases, accompanied by a minimization of kidney dose in comparison to the application of 90Y labeled peptides. Moreover, due to the contemporary beta- and gamma-emission, 177Lu is a useful diagnostic tool for scintigraphy of tumoral uptake.

[0007] Several developments based on the chelator diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid (DTPA), lead to the promising cyclohexyl substituted analogue, cyclohexyl-diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (CHX-A"-DTPA), which showed high stability in vivo, and radiolabelling with 90Y was achieved under mild conditions (pH=6 at room temperature). Consequently, several studies were conducted involving the synthesis of the PSMA ligand cyclohexyl-diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid-(5S,8S,22S,26S)-1-amino-5,8-dibenzyl-4,7,10,19,24-pentaoxo-3,6,9,18,23,25-hexaazaoctacosane-22,26,28-tricarboxylic acid (CHX-A"-DTPA-DUPA-Pep), labeled with 68Ga, 177Lu or 90Y. In cell research with PSMA-positive androgen-insensitive LNCaP-C4-2 cells, this PSMA ligand showed KD values of ≤14.67±1.95 nM, indicating high biological activity towards PSMA. Other studies using the PSMA ligand (5S,8S,22S,26S)-1-amino-5,8-dibenzyl-4,7,10,19,24-pentaoxo-3,6,9,18,23,25-hexaazaoctacosane-22,26,28-tricarboxylic acid (DUPA-Pep), conjugated with 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N",N'''-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) and the same cells, revealed a high PSMA-affinity with a KD of 21.6±0.4 nM.

[0008] Currently, DOTA is the mostly used chelator for the complexation of radio-metals such as 68Ga, 177Lu and 90Y, for both diagnostic and therapeutic application. However, labeling reactions using DOTA as the chelating agent are usually carried out at high temperatures under acidic conditions and require long reaction times, which might result in decomposition of the PSMA ligand, the radioactive isotope, or both.

[0009] Today, a fully automated synthesis module is used for radio-synthezising a radio-labled PSMA tracer for clinical applications such as imaging and therapy. However, the process performed by this module is time consuming and requires expensive dedicated machinery and equipment, which occupy a large space. Moreover, this process results with a substantive amount of unbound radio-isotope and therefore requires an additional dedicated purification step for the removal of said unbound radio-isotope.

[0010] In view of the relatively short half-life of the 68Ga isotope (about 68 minutes only), the fully automated synthesis module currently used for radio-synthezising 68Ga-labeled DKFZ-PSMA-11, for imaging purposes, is further combined with a 68Ge/68Ga-generator. This automated synthesis module has to be quarantined in order to prevent radiation exposure of the close environment. Said quarantine is predominantly done by using a dedicated protection hot-cell, and the entire construction is usually placed at a dedicated room. The entire system, i.e., the module, the hot-cell and the required space, is highly expensive and requires constant and high maintenance costs. In addition, since the duration of the procedure for radiolabeling DKFZ-PSMA-11 using the automated module is about 20-30 minutes, the radiolabeled PSMA tracer obtained thereby has to be used, i.e., administered to the subject, immediately before it is no longer effective.

[0011] Therefore, there is an unmet need for developing new, simple, fast and cost efficient ways for radiolabeling PSMA tracers.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION



[0012] It has now been found, in accordance with the present invention, that highly-efficient radiolabeling of urea-based PSMA ligands, such as DKFZ-PSMA-11, with the radioactive isotope 68Ga, can be carried out in a fast, simple and safe manner which renders the use of the current automated synthesis module, and the requirements for the whole protecting constructions associated therewith, redundant. As shown herein, such a process is applicable for radioactive isotopes other than 68Ga as well, such as 177Lu, or 90Y.

[0013] In one aspect, the present invention thus relates to a "shake & bake" method for labeling a PSMA ligand with a radioactive isotope such as 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of: (i) providing a reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of a sodium-based buffering agent and said PSMA ligand, both in dried form; (ii) adding a solution of said radioactive isotope in a predetermined amount of HCl having a predetermined molarity to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said radioactive isotope in said HCl; (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for a sufficient period of time, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope to thereby obtain said PSMA ligand labeled with said radioactive isotope, wherein at least 90%, preferably 95%, of said radioactive isotope in said solution is bound to said PSMA ligand; and (iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH compatible with physiological conditions by adding a sodium-based buffering agent,
wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I:

         I     R1-CO-R2-L-B-X

wherein

B is a chelating agent capable of coordinating with said radioactive isotope;

X is absent or is of the formula -L'-R2'-CO-R1';

L and L' each independently is absent or a linker;

R1 and R1' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group; and

R2 and R2' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group.



[0014] In one particular embodiment exemplified herein, the method of the invention is used for labeling a PSMA ligand with 68Ga, wherein said PSMA ligand is DKFZ-PSMA-11, i.e., a compound of the general formula I, wherein X is absent; R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC, i.e., N,N'-bis-[2-hydroxy-5-(carboxyethyl) benzyl]ethylene-diamine-N,N'-diacetic acid, linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid.

[0015] The labeled PSMA ligand prepared according to the method of the invention may be used for either imaging or treatment of a primary prostate cancer or metastases thereof, wherein PSMA ligands labeled with 68Ga are typically used for imaging, and PSMA ligands labeled with either 177Lu or 90Y are typically used for treatment. In particular embodiments, the method of the invention thus further comprises the step of administering the solution obtained in step (iv) to a subject, i.e., a mammal in general or human in particular, for imaging or for treatment of prostate cancer or metastases thereof.

[0016] In another aspect, the present invention relates to a PSMA ligand labeled with a radioactive isotope by the method defined above, wherein (i) said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, for use in imaging of prostate cancer or metastases thereof; or (ii) said radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, for use in treatment of prostate cancer or metastases thereof.

[0017] In a further aspect, the present invention provides a kit for carrying out the method defined above, more particularly, a kit comprising: (i) a disposable reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of both a sodium-based buffering agent and a PSMA ligand of the general formula I as defined above, both in dried form; or two disposable reaction vials, wherein one of said reaction vials contains said sodium-based buffering agent and the other of said reaction vials contains said PSMA ligand, both in dried form; and (ii) instructions for optionally adding said sodium-based buffering agent to the reaction vial containing said PSMA ligand, and for labeling said PSMA ligand with a radioactive isotope. In particular embodiments, the kit of the invention further comprises (i) a vial containing a predetermined amount of HCl having a molarity in a range of 0.05 to 0.1N for eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator; and (ii) a vial containing a sodium-based buffering agent for pH adjustment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0018] The present invention describes new methods for radiolabeling PSMA ligands with suitable radioactive isotopes, such as 68Ga, 90Y. and 177Lu, under mild reaction conditions (e.g., room temperature) and for short periods of time (e.g., 3 to 30 minutes), while still obtaining quantitative radiochemical yields, wherein said radiolabeled PSMA isotope is suitable for the diagnosis or therapy of prostate cancer. Accordingly, the present invention provides methods for radiolabeling PSMA, which are both simple and fast, and require neither sophisticated nor expensive equipment as required by the automated synthesis module currently available, such as the "hot-cell". Moreover, since the method of the inveiton enables over 95% binding of the radiaoactive isotop to said PSMA ligand, it eliminates the need for a step of removing unbound isotop from the reaction vial, which is an essential step of the presently known labeling methods, involving, e.g., using a designated cartridge of column for said unbound isotop removal.

[0019] In one aspect, the present invention thus provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand with a radioactive isotope such as 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y, said method consisting essentially of the steps of: (i) providing a reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of a sodium-based buffering agent and said PSMA ligand, both in dried form, i.e., either lyophilized or spray dried; (ii) adding a solution of said radioactive isotope in a predetermined amount of HCl having a predetermined molarity to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said radioactive isotope in said HCl; (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for a sufficient period of time, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope to thereby obtain said PSMA ligand labeled with said radioactive isotope, wherein at least 90%, preferably 95%, of said radioactive isotope in said solution is bound to said PSMA ligand; and (iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH compatible with physiological conditions by adding a sodium-based buffering agent,
wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I:

         I     R1-CO-R2-L-B-X

wherein B is a chelating agent capable of coordinating with said radioactive isotope; X is absent or is of the formula -L'-R2'-CO-R1'; L and L' each independently is absent or a linker; R1 and R1' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group; and R2 and R2' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group.

[0020] The terms "PSMA ligand", "PSMA tracer" and "PSMA inhibitor", used herein interchangeably, refer to a compound of the general formula I defined above, i.e., a compound comprising (a) an urea core formed by linking two amino acid residues via their amino groups to a carbonyl group, and capable of interacting thus inhibiting the PSMA enzyme; and (b) a chelating agent capable of coordinating with a radioactive isotope such as 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y, and linked to said urea core optionally via a linker linked to one of said amino acid residues. Particular PSMA ligands described herein are those having an urea core formed by linking glutamic acid and lysine residues, each via its α-amino group, to a carbonyl group, and a chelating agent linked to the side chain amino group of the lysine residue via a linker consisting of an amino acid or a dipeptide.

[0021] The term "amino acid" as used herein refers to an organic compound comprising both amine and carboxylic acid functional groups, which may be either a natural or synthetic, i.e., non-natural, amino acid in its both L- and D-stereoisomers. The twenty two natural amino acids are aspartic acid (Asp), tyrosine (Tyr), leucine (Leu), tryptophan (Trp), arginine (Arg), valine (Val), glutamic acid (Glu), methionine (Met), phenylalanine (Phe), serine (Ser), alanine (Ala), glutamine (Gln), glycine (Gly), proline (Pro), threonine (Thr), asparagine (Asn), lysine (Lys), histidine (His), isoleucine (Ile), cysteine (Cys), selenocysteine (Sec), and pyrrolysine (Pyl). A non-natural amino acid is any amino acid, modified amino acid and/or an analog thereof, that is not one of those natural amino acids, wherein non-limiting examples of non-natural amino acids include diaminopropionic acid (Dap), diaminobutyric acid (Dab), ornithine (Orn), aminoadipic acid, β-alanine, α-aminohexanoic acid (Ahx), 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1-naphthylalanine (1Nal), 2-naphthylalanine (2Nal), 3-(1-naphthyl)alanine, 3-(2-naphthyl)alanine, 4-(aminomethyl)cyclohexane carboxylic acid (Amc), γ-aminobutiric acid (GABA), 3-(aminomethyl) benzoic acid, p-ethynyl-phenylalanine, p-propargly-oxy-phenylalanine, m-ethynyl-phenylalanine, p-bromophenylalanine, p-iodophenylalanine, p-azidophenylalanine, p-acetylphenylalanine, azidonorleucine, 6-ethynyl-tryptophan, 5-ethynyl-tryptophan, 3-(6-chloroindolyl)alanine, 3-(6-bromoindolyl)alanine, 3-(5-bromoindolyl) alanine, azidohomoalanine, p-chlorophenylalanine, α-aminocaprylic acid, O-methyl-L-tyrosine, N-acetylgalactosamine-α-threonine, and N-acetylgalactosamine-α-serine. The term "amino acid residue" refers to a residue of an amino acid results from removal of a hydrogen atom(s) from either an amine or carboxylic acid group thereof, or from both amine and carboxylic groups thereof.

[0022] The term "peptide" as used herein refers to a chain of 2-8 amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds, i.e., the covalent bond formed when a carboxyl group of one amino acid reacts with an amino group of another. Particular such peptides are those consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, more particularly 2, 3, or 4 amino acid residues, i.e., dipeptides, tripeptides or tetrapeptides, respectively.

[0023] The term "alkylene" as used herein refers to a straight or branched divalent hydrocarbon radical having 1-8 carbon atoms and includes, e.g., methylene, ethylene, propylene, butylene, 2-methylpropylene, pentylene, 2-methylbutylene, hexylene, 2-methylpentylene, 3-methylpentylene, 2,3-dimethylbutylene, heptylene, octylene, and the like. Preferred are (C1-C6)alkylene, (C1-C4)alkylene, and (C2-C4)alkylene. The term "alkenylene" typically means straight or branched divalent hydrocarbon radicals having 2-8 carbon atoms and one or more double bond such as, without limiting, ethenylene, propenylene, 1- and 2-butenylene, 1- and 2-pentenylene, 1-, 2- and 3-hexenylene, heptenylene, octenylene, and the like. The terms "alkynylene" typically means straight or branched divalent hydrocarbon radicals having 2-8 carbon atoms and one or more triple bond such as, without limiting, ethynylene, propynylene, 1- and 2-butynylene, 1- and 2-pentynylene, 1-, 2- and 3-hexynylene, heptynylene, octynylene, and the like.

[0024] In certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue linked via the amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group.

[0025] In certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue linked via the amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group, or a lysine residue linked via either the α-amino or side chain amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group. In particular such embodiments, R2 and R2', if present, is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO-group.

[0026] In certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-8, e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more, e.g., 1, 2, or 3, groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, - OCOOR3, -OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more, e.g., 1, 2, or 3, identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group, e.g., 1, 2, or more groups, selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, -N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl.

[0027] In certain particular such embodiments, L and L' each independently is a linker selected from an amino acid residue, or a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1-naphthylalanine (1Nal), 2-naphthylalanine (2Nal), or 4-(aminomethyl) cyclohexane carboxylic acid (Amc). Preferred such embodiments are those wherein said linker is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal, or Amc-2Nal.

[0028] In other particular such embodiments, L and L' each independently is a linker selected from (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COH, -COOH, -OCOOH, -OCONH2, -CN, -NO2, -SH, -OH, -NH2, -CONH2, -SO2H, -SO3H, or - S(=O)H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, -N(C1-C8alkyl)-.

[0029] The chelating agent HBED-CC is a rarely used acyclic complexing agent especially allowing efficient radiolabelling with, e.g., 68Ga even at ambient temperature. Accordingly, in certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein said chelating agent being capable of coordinating with said radioactive isotope is HBED-CC, forming amide bond with either the linker L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either the linker L', if present, or R2'.

[0030] An alternative chelating agent, widely used for the complexation of various radioactive isotopes such as 68Ga, 177Lu and 90Y, for both diagnostic and therapeutic application, is DOTA. In other embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein said chelating agent is thus DOTA, forming amide bond with either the linker L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either the linker L', if present, or R2'.

[0031] In certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention has the general formula I as defined above, wherein R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue; R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue preferably linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-8 amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, - OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, - N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl; said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y; and said chelating agent is HBED-CC or DOTA, forming amide bond with either L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either L', if present, or R2'. In particular such embodiments, L and L', if present, each independently is a linker selected from an amino acid residue, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1Nal, 2Nal, or Amc; and said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, -OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, wherein R3 is H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, -N(C1-C8alkyl)-. More particular such embodiments are those wherein L and L' each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal, or Amc-2Nal.

[0032] In certain embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention is a compound of the general formula I, wherein R1 is a glutamic acid residue; R2 is a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue preferably linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1Nal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal, or Amc-2Nal; said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y; said chelating agent is HBED-CC or DOTA, forming amide bond with L; and X is absent. In one specific such embodiment, the PSMA ligand is a compound of the general formula I, wherein R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid, i.e., 4,6,12,19-tetraazadocosane-1,3,7-tricarboxylic acid, 22-[3-[[[2-[[[5-(2-carboxyethyl)-2-hydroxyphenyl] methyl](carboxymethyl)amino]ethyl](carboxymethyl)amino]methyl]-4-hydroxyphenyl]-5,13,20-trioxo-(3S,7S)-trifluoroacetate salt, herein identified as DKFZ-PSMA-11 (see Table 1). In other specific such embodiments, the PSMA ligand is a compound of the general formula I, wherein R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent - CO- group; L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc, i.e., 2-[3-(1-carboxy-5-{3-naphthalen-2-yl-2-[(4-{[2-(4,7,10-tris(carboxymethyl)-1,4,7,10-tetraaza-cyclododec-1-yl)-acetylamino]-methyl}-cyclohexanecarbonyl)-amino]-propionylamino}-pentyl)-ureido]-pentanedioic acid, herein identified as DKFZ-PSMA-617, or 2[-3-(1-carboxy-5-{3-naphthalen-1-yl-2-[(-4-{[2-(4,7,10-tris(carboxymethyl)-1,4,7,10-tetraaza-cyclododec-1-yl)-acetylamino]-methyl}-cyclohexanecarbonyl)-amino]-propionylamino}-pentyl)-ureido]-pentanedioic acid, herein identified as DKFZ-PSMA-617-1 (see Table 1). According to the method of the invention, these specific PSMA ligands can be labeled with 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y.

[0033] In other embodiments, the PSMA ligand being labeled according to the method of the present invention is a compound of the general formula I, wherein X is present; R1 and R1' are a glutamic acid residue; R2 and R2' are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue preferably linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L and L' each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal, or Amc-2Nal; said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y; and said chelating agent is HBED-CC or DOTA, forming amide bond with L, and another amide bond with L'. In one specific such embodiment, the PSMA ligand is a compound of the general formula I, wherein R2 and R2' are a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L and L' each is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via one carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L and via another carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L', i.e., (3S,7S)-22-(3-(((carboxymethyl)(2-((carboxymethyl)(2-hydroxy-5-((3R,7S)-1,3,7-tricarboxy-5,13,20-trioxo-4,6,12,19-tetraazadocosan-22-yl)benzyl)amino)ethyl)amino)methyl)-4-hydroxyphenyl)-5,13,20-trioxo-4,6,12,19-tetraazadocosane-1,3,7-tricarboxylic acid, herein identified as DKFZ-PSMA-10 (see Table 1). According to the method of the invention, these specific PSMA ligands can be labeled with 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y.

[0034] In certain embodiments, the present invention provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand of the general formula I as defined in any one of the embodiments above, wherein the reaction vial provided in step (i) is pretreated with HCl, thereby adhering protons to the vial's wall. Such pretreatment is aimed at significantly reducing adherence of additional protons to the vial's wall upon introducing an eluted isotope's solution, and thus preventing or minimizing possible pH alterations of said solution and facilitating pH conditions favorable for the speedy complexation of the radioactive isotopes with the chelating agent, even at ambient temperature.

[0035] In certain embodiments, the present invention provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand of the general formula I as defined in any one of the embodiments above, wherein said buffering agent in step (i) is any suitable sodium-based buffering agent such as sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate. Specific embodiments are those wherein said buffering agent is sodium formate.

[0036] In certain embodiments, the present invention provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand of the general formula I as defined in any one of the embodiments above, wherein the solution added in step (ii) to said reaction vial is obtained by eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator, immediately before step (ii), using said predetermined amount of HCl as an elution solvent. Such embodiments are preferred, e.g., when the radioactive isotope used has a relatively short half-life such in the case of 68Ga, which should thus be eluted from, e.g., a 68Ge/68Ga-generator, using said predetermined amount of HCl having a predetermined molarity, immediately before its addition to the reaction vial and mixing with said PSMA ligand and said sodium-based buffering agent.

[0037] According to the method of the present invention, the HCl solution obtained in step (ii), containing the PSMA ligand and the radioactive isotope, can be mixed using any suitable technique, e.g., by stirring or shaking, and is then incubated for a sufficient period of time and at a suitable temperature so as to react said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope, i.e., labeling said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope. According to the method of the invention, following this incubation step, at least 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, or 99% of said radioactive isotope is bound to said PSMA ligand, i.e., coordinated with said chelating agent B. For example, in certain embodiments, the radioactive isotope is 68Ga, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for 2 to 10, 2 to 8, or 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature, so as to obtain at least 90% of said 68Ga coordinated with said chelating agent B; or the radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for about 30 minutes or more, e.g., for about 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 minutes, at a temperature of about 100°C or higher, e.g., 100-110°C, 110-120°C, or 120-130°C, so as to obtain at least 95% or at least 99% of said 177Lu or 90Y coordinated with said chelating agent B.

[0038] Depending on the molarity of the HCl solution containing said radioactive isotope, and consequently the pH of the solution added to the reaction vial in step (ii), the pH of the labeled PSMA ligand-containing solution obtained in step (iv) might have to be adjusted to a pH compatible with physiological conditions, i.e., to a pH in a range of 4.0-8.0. The pH adjustment, if required, may be conducted by adding any suitable sodium-based buffering agent such as sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate.

[0039] The Example section hereinafter shows preparation of 68Ga-labeled DKFZ-PSMA-11 in a disposable reaction vial containing particular amounts of DKFZ-PSMA-11 and sodium formate, both in lyophilized form, by adding to said reaction vial 68Ga eluted in a particular volume of HCl 0.1N, and incubating the resulting mixture at room temperature for about 5 minutes. The method exemplified is highly efficient, wherein following the short incubation of the PSMA ligand and the radioactive isotope, about 95% of the radioactive isotope is bound to said PSMA ligand, i.e., coordinated with the HBED-CC.

[0040] In one particular such aspect, the invention thus provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 68Ga, said method comprising the steps of: (i) providing a reaction vial containing about 800-1800 mg sodium formate and about 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried; (ii) adding a solution of 68Ga in about 1.8 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 68Ga in said HCl, wherein said solution of 68Ga in HCl is obtained from a 68Ga generator, immediately before this step, using said HCl as an elution solvent; (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for 2 to 10, preferably 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 68Ga and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 68Ga; and (iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH in a range of 4.0 to 8.0, by adding about 0.1 ml sodium hydroxide IN, wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

         I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

wherein R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and (a) L is 6-aminohexanoic acid linked via the carboxylic group thereof to the to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid; or (b) L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.

[0041] In another particular such aspect, the invention provides a method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 177Lu or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of: (i) providing a reaction vial containing sodium formate and 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried; (ii) adding a solution of 177Lu or 90Y. in about 0.5 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 177Lu or 90Y. in said HCl; and (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for about 30 minutes at a temperature of about 100°C or higher, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 177Lu or 90Y. and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 177Lu or 90Y, wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

         I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

wherein R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.

[0042] Although in both particular aspects described above, 10 µg PSMA ligand were used, it should be noted that the amount of PSMA ligand may be modified, more particularly increased, so as to reduce reaction time. For instance, using 30 µg of PSMA ligand instead of 10 µg reduces the reaction time by up to 5 minutes when conducted at room temperature (for labeling said PSMA ligand with 68Ga), and by up to 15-30 minutes when carried out at a temperature of about 100°C (for labeling said PSMA ligand with 177Lu or 90Y).

[0043] The radioactive isotope-labeled PSMA ligand prepared according to the method of the present invention can be administered to a subject, i.e., a mammal in general or a human in particular, for either imaging or treating a prostate cancer or metastases thereof, depending on the particular radioactive isotope used. In certain embodiments, the method of the invention in any one of the embodiments defined above further comprises a step of administering the solution obtained in step (iv) to a subject for imaging or for treatment of prostate cancer or metastases thereof.

[0044] In another aspect, the present invention thus provides a PSMA ligand labeled with a radioactive isotope by the method of the invention as defined in any one of the embodiments above, wherein (i) said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, for use in imaging of prostate cancer or metastases thereof; or (ii) said radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, for use in treatment of prostate cancer or metastases thereof.

[0045] In a further aspect, the present invention provides a kit for carrying out the method of the invention, i.e., a kit comprising: (i) a disposable reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of both a sodium-based buffering agent and a PSMA ligand of the general formula I as defined above, both in dried form, i.e., either lyophilized or spray dried; or two disposable reaction vials, wherein one of said reaction vials contains said sodium-based buffering agent and the other of said reaction vials contains said PSMA ligand, both in dried form; and (ii) instructions for optionally adding said sodium-based buffering agent to the reaction vial containing said PSMA ligand, and for labeling said PSMA ligand with a radioactive isotope. Sodium-based buffering agents that can be used in the kit of the invention include any suitable such buffering agents, e.g., sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate.

[0046] In certain embodiments, the disposable reaction vial contained within the kit of the present invention is pretreated with HCl so as to adhere protons to the vial's wall. Such pretreatment is aimed at significantly reducing adherence of additional protons to the vial's wall upon introducing an eluted isotope's solution, and thus preventing or minimizing any pH alterations of said solution and facilitating pH conditions favorable for complexation of the radioactive isotopes with the chelating agent, even at ambient temperature.

[0047] The radioactive isotope for labeling the PSMA ligand provided with the kit of the invention may be provided as ready-for-use product, i.e., for mixing and incubating with the PSMA ligand and sodium-based buffering agent comprised within the kit of the invention, or alternatively may be eluted from a radioactive isotope generator prior to, and shortly before, mixing and incubating with said PSMA ligand and said sodium-based buffering agent, particularly in cases said radioactive isotope has a relatively short half-life such as in the case of 68Ga. In certain embodiments, the kit of the invention according to any one of the embodiments defined above thus further comprises at least one of: (i) a vial containing a predetermined amount of HCl having a molarity in a range of 0.05 to 0.1N for eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator; and (ii) a vial containing a sodium-based buffering agent for pH adjustment.

[0048] Additional features of the invention are defined in the following clauses:
  1. (1). A method for labeling a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) ligand with a radioactive isotope selected from 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of:
    1. (i) providing a reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of a sodium-based buffering agent and said PSMA ligand, both in dried form;
    2. (ii) adding a solution of said radioactive isotope in a predetermined amount of HCl having a predetermined molarity to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said radioactive isotope in said HCl;
    3. (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for a sufficient period of time, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope to thereby obtain said PSMA ligand labeled with said radioactive isotope, wherein at least 90% of said radioactive isotope in said solution is bound to said PSMA ligand; and
    4. (iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH compatible with physiological conditions by adding a sodium-based buffering agent,
    wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I:

             I     R1-CO-R2-L-B-X

    wherein

    B is a chelating agent capable of coordinating with said radioactive isotope;

    X is absent or is of the formula -L'-R2'-CO- R1';

    L and L' each independently is absent or a linker;

    R1 and R1' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group; and

    R2 and R2' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group.

  2. (2). The method of clause (1), wherein:
    1. (i) R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue; or
    2. (ii) R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue; or
    3. (iii) L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, - OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl; or
    4. (iv) said chelating agent is N,N'-bis[2-hydroxy-5-(carboxyethyl)benzyl] ethylenediamine-N,N'-diacetic acid (HBED-CC) or 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA), forming amide bond with either L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either L', if present, or R2'.
  3. (3). The method of clause (2), wherein:
    1. (i) said linker is an amino acid residue, or a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1-naphthylalanine (1Nal), 2-naphthylalanine (2Nal), or 4-(aminomethyl)cyclohexane carboxylic acid (Amc), preferably a residue of 6-aminohexanoic acid or 8-aminooctanoic acid, or a moiety of INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-INal or Amc-2Nal; or
    2. (ii) said linker each independently is (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COH, -COOH, -OCOOH, - OCONH2, -CN, -NO2, -SH, -OH, -NH2, -CONH2, -SO2H, -SO3H, or - S(=O)H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-.
  4. (4). The method of clause (1), wherein:

    R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue;

    R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue;

    L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene each independently is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, -OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl; and

    said chelating agent is HBED-CC or DOTA, forming an amide bond with either L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either L', if present, or R2'.

  5. (5). The method of clause (4), wherein L and L', if present, each independently is a linker selected from an amino acid residue, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1Nal, 2Nal, or Amc; and said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COH, -COOH, -OCOOH, -OCONH2, -CN, -NO2, -SH, -OH, -NH2, -CONH2, -SO2H, -SO3H, or -S(=O)H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-.
  6. (6). The method of clause (5), wherein L and L' each independently is a residue of 6-aminohexanoic acid or 8-aminooctanoic acid, or a moiety of INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal or Amc-2Nal.
  7. (7). The method of clause (6), wherein (i) X is absent; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and (a) L is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid; or (b) L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc; or (ii) X is present; R2 and R2' each is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent - CO- group; L and L' each is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via one carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L and via another carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L'.
  8. (8). The method of clause (7), wherein said radioactive isotope is 68Ga.
  9. (9). The method of any one of clause (1) to (8), wherein
    1. (a) said reaction vial provided in step (i) is pretreated with HCl; or
    2. (b) said buffering agent in step (i) is sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate; or
    3. (c) the solution added in step (ii) to said reaction vial is obtained by eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator, immediately before step (ii), using said predetermined amount of HCl as an elution solvent; or
    4. (d) said mixing in step (iii) is carried out by stirring or shaking; or
    5. (e) said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for 2 to 10, preferably 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature; or said radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for about 30 minutes or more at a temperature of about 100°C or higher; or
    6. (f) the pH of the solution in step (iv) is adjusted to a pH in a range of 4.0 to 8.0, by adding sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate.
  10. (10). A method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 68Ga, said method comprising the steps of:
    1. (i) providing a reaction vial containing about 800-1800 mg sodium formate and about 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried;
    2. (ii) adding a solution of 68Ga in about 1.8 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 68Ga in said HCl, wherein said solution of 68Ga in HCl is obtained from a 68Ga generator, immediately before this step, using said HCl as an elution solvent;
    3. (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for 2 to 10, preferably 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 68Ga and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 68Ga; and
    4. (iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH in a range of 4.0 to 8.0, by adding about 0.1 ml sodium hydroxide IN,
    wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

             I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

    wherein
    R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and either: (a) L is 6-aminohexanoic acid linked via the carboxylic group thereof to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid; or (b) L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.
  11. (11). A method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 177Lu or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of:
    1. (i) providing a reaction vial containing sodium formate and 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried;
    2. (ii) adding a solution of 177Lu or 90Y. in about 0.5 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 177Lu or 90Y in said HCl; and
    3. (iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for about 30 minutes at a temperature of about 100°C or higher, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 177Lu or 90Y and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 177Lu or 90Y,
    wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

             I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

    wherein
    R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.
  12. (12). A PSMA ligand labeled with a radioactive isotope by the method of any one of clauses (1) to (11), wherein (i) said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, for use in imaging of prostate cancer or metastases thereof; or (ii) said radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, for use in treatment of prostate cancer or metastases thereof.
  13. (13). A kit comprising:
    1. (i) a disposable reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of both a sodium-based buffering agent and a PSMA ligand as defined in claim 1, both in dried form; or two disposable reaction vials, wherein one of said reaction vials contains said sodium-based buffering agent and the other of said reaction vials contains said PSMA ligand, both in dried form; and
    2. (ii) instructions for optionally adding said sodium-based buffering agent to the reaction vial containing said PSMA ligand, and for labeling said PSMA ligand with a radioactive isotope.
  14. (14). The kit of clause (13), wherein (i) said reaction vial containing said PSMA ligand and optionally said sodium-based buffering agent is pretreated with HCl; or (ii) said sodium-based buffering agent is sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate.
  15. (15). The kit of clause (13) or (14), further comprising at least one of:
    1. (i) a vial containing a predetermined amount of HCl having a molarity in a range of 0.05 to 0.1N for eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator; and
    2. (ii) a vial containing a sodium-based buffering agent for pH adjustment.


[0049] The invention will now be illustrated by the following non-limiting examples.

EXAMPLES


Example 1: Radio-synthesis of 68Ga-labeled PSMA tracer according to a known technique



[0050] Disposable cassette kits and chemicals including the PSMA ligand DKFZ-PSMA-11 in GMP-compliant grade used for the radio-synthesis were obtained from ABX advanced biochemical compounds (Germany).

[0051] The synthesis of the 68Ga-labelled PSMA ligand as previously described (Eder M. et al., Novel preclinical and radiopharmaceutical aspects of [68Ga]Ga-PSMA-HBED-CC: A new PET tracer for imaging of prostate cancer, Pharmaceuticals, 2014, 7, 779-796) was reproduced reliably and slightly modified on a fully automated synthesis module in 80%±5% decay corrected radiochemical yield within 35 minutes, applying single-use cassette-based kits.

[0052] An audit trial was recorded for each radio-synthesis including all performed steps and courses of radioactivity on three gamma detectors, gas flow and temperature of the heating unit. The steps involved include: (i) conditioning of the purification cartridge; (ii) elution of the 68Ge/68Ga-generator; (iii) purification of the generator elute; (iv) radio-synthesis of the radiolabeled PSMA ligand; and (v) purification by cation exchange column filtration and sterile filtration of the final product.

[0053] The 68Ga-labelled DKFZ-PSMA-11 was obtained in >95% radiochemical purity as two diastereomers with a pH ranging between 6 and 8. Stability of this tracer in the final product solution was tested for up to 6 hours after the end of radio-synthesis and yielded identical results for the radiochemical purity. The only residual solvent found in the final product solution was ethanol in less than 5% v/v taking the density at 20°C to be 0.79 g/ml. Bacterial endotoxin testing showed <2 IU/ml and all samples tested were sterile. Filter integrity of the sterile filter was tested using the bubble-point test. Gamma spectrometry showed characteristic peaks at 0.511 and 1.077 MeV.

Example 2: Two modes of operation for using the automated radio-synthesis module



[0054] The automated synthesis module can be carried out using either reusable or disposable reaction vials.

[0055] When reusable vials are used, the mode of operation includes the steps of: (a) adding into the reaction vial a PSMA ligand and sodium formate to reach a working pH of from about 4.0 to about 8.0; (b) automatically eluting the radioactive isotope generator by fractionation with HCl 0.1N (about 0.5 ml for 90Y. or 177Lu, or about 1.8 ml for 68Ga); (c) heating the reaction vial at about 95°C (30 minutes for 90Y or 177Lu, or 5 minutes for 68Ga); (d) purifying the radiolabeled PSMA tracer by passing the crude product through cation exchange column, where the labeled PSMA tracer remains on the column and the free radioactive isotopes are removed and discarded; (e) passing saline through said column to remove residual HCl; (f) eluting the labeled PSMA tracer from the cation exchange column with about 0.5 ml 50% ethanol; (g) passing saline through said column to dilute the final product to a max 5% ethanol; and (h) sterilizing the elute by passing it through a 0.22 micron filter into a collection vial. Finally, a quality control of the labeled PSMA tracer is performed.

[0056] When disposable vials and reagents are used, in which case all the reagents are contained in a disposable vial and disposable separation-column, the mode of operation includes the same steps mentioned above, with the exeption that the vials and the cation exchange column being used are disposable and therefore do not need to be washed after use.

Example 3: Radio-synthesis of 68Ga-labelled DKFZ-PSMA-11 using the "shake & bake" method



[0057] Radio-synthesis of 68Ga-labeled DKFZ-PSMA-11 was carried out using a kit comprising (i) a disposable reaction vial containing the PSMA ligand (10 µg) and sodium formate (800-1800 mg), both in lyophilized form; (ii) an elution vial containing 0.1N HCl, for elution of the 68Ge/68Ga generator; and (iii) a buffer vial containing IN NaOH, for pH adjustment.

[0058] The procedure of radiolabeling the PSMA tracer was performed by: (a) eluting the 68Ge/68Ga generator by fractionation with about 1.8 ml HCl 0.1N directly into the reaction vial; (b) mixing and incubating the reaction vial at room temperature for about 5 minutes; and (c) adjusting the pH in the reaction vial, if lower than 4.0, by adding 0.1 ml 1N NaOH until reaching a pH in the range of 4.0 to 8.0.

[0059] A similar experiment conducted with a disposable reaction vial containing 30 µg of the PSMA ligand, reduced the incubation time by about 2 to 3 minutes.

Example 4: Quality control procedures



[0060] The resulting 68Ga-PSMA tracers produced in Examples 1 and 3 above were tested for radiochemical purity by using thin layer chromatography (TLC). The resulting acceptable criteria using 0.1M sodium citrate as the runing solvent are: (a) for free 68Ga: Retardation Factor (RF) of 0.8-1.0 and no more than 10%; and (b) for 68Ga-labeled tracer: RF of 0.0-0.3 and no less than 90%. The resulting acceptable criteria using 1M ammonium acetate+methanol (1:1) as the running solvent are (a) for colloid 68Ga: RF of 0.0-0.2 and no more than 10%; and (b) for 68Ga labeled tracer: RF of 0.8-1.0 and no less than 90%.

[0061] The half-life (t½) of the resulting 68Ga-PSMA tracer was from about 65.0 to about 69.6 minutes.




Claims

1. A method for labeling a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) ligand with a radioactive isotope selected from 68Ga, 177Lu, or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of:

(i) providing a reaction vial containing a predetermined amounts of a sodium-based buffering agent and said PSMA ligand, both in dried form;

(ii) adding a solution of said radioactive isotope in a predetermined amount of HCl having a predetermined molarity to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said radioactive isotope in said HCl;

(iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for a sufficient period of time, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said radioactive isotope to thereby obtain said PSMA ligand labeled with said radioactive isotope, wherein at least 90% of said radioactive isotope in said solution is bound to said PSMA ligand; and

(iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH compatible with physiological conditions by adding a sodium-based buffering agent,

wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I:

         I     R1-CO-R2-L-B-X

wherein

B is a chelating agent capable of coordinating with said radioactive isotope;

X is absent or is of the formula -L'-R2'-CO- R1';

L and L' each independently is absent or a linker;

R1 and R1' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group; and

R2 and R2' each independently is an amino acid residue linked via an amino group thereof to the adjacent -CO- group.


 
2. The method of claim 1, wherein:

(i) R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue; or

(ii) R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue; or

(iii) L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, - OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl; or

(iv) said chelating agent is N,N'-bis[2-hydroxy-5-(carboxyethyl)benzyl] ethylenediamine-N,N'-diacetic acid (HBED-CC) or 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA), forming amide bond with either L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either L', if present, or R2'.


 
3. The method of claim 2, wherein:

(i) said linker is an amino acid residue, or a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1-naphthylalanine (1Nal), 2-naphthylalanine (2Nal), or 4-(aminomethyl)cyclohexane carboxylic acid (Amc), preferably a residue of 6-aminohexanoic acid or 8-aminooctanoic acid, or a moiety of INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal or Amc-2Nal; or

(ii) said linker each independently is (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COH, -COOH, -OCOOH, - OCONH2, -CN, -NO2, -SH, -OH, -NH2, -CONH2, -SO2H, -SO3H, or - S(=O)H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-.


 
4. The method of claim 1, wherein:

R1 and R1', if present, are a glutamic acid residue;

R2 and R2', if present, are a glutamic acid residue or a lysine residue;

L and L' each independently is absent or a linker selected from an amino acid residue forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues and forming a peptide bond with R2 or R2', respectively, (C1-Cs)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene each independently is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COR3, -COOR3, -OCOOR3, -OCON(R3)2, -CN, -NO2, -SR3, -OR3, -N(R3)2, -CON(R3)2, -SO2R3, -SO3H, or -S(=O)R3, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-, wherein R3 each independently is selected from hydrogen, or -(C1-C8)alkyl; and

said chelating agent is HBED-CC or DOTA, forming an amide bond with either L, if present, or R2, and when X is present, forming another amide bond with either L', if present, or R2'.


 
5. The method of claim 4, wherein L and L', if present, each independently is a linker selected from an amino acid residue, a peptide moiety consisting of 2-6 amino acid residues, (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene or (C2-C8)alkynylene, wherein said amino acid each independently is 6-aminohexanoic acid, 8-aminooctanoic acid, 1Nal, 2Nal, or Amc; and said (C1-C8)alkylene, (C2-C8)alkenylene and (C2-C8)alkynylene is optionally substituted with one or more groups each independently is selected from halogen, -COH, -COOH, -OCOOH, -OCONH2, -CN, -NO2, -SH, -OH, -NH2, -CONH2, -SO2H, -SO3H, or -S(=O)H, and further optionally interrupted by one or more identical or different heteroatoms selected from S, O or N, and/or at least one group selected from -NH-CO-, -CO-NH-, or -N(C1-C8alkyl)-.
 
6. The method of claim 5, wherein L and L' each independently is a residue of 6-aminohexanoic acid or 8-aminooctanoic acid, or a moiety of INal-Amc, 2Nal-Amc, Amc-1Nal or Amc-2Nal.
 
7. The method of claim 6, wherein (i) X is absent; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and (a) L is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid; or (b) L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc; or (ii) X is present; R2 and R2' each is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent - CO- group; L and L' each is 6-aminohexanoic acid; and B is HBED-CC linked via one carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L and via another carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of L'.
 
8. The method of claim 7, wherein said radioactive isotope is 68Ga.
 
9. The method of any one of claim 1 to 8, wherein

(a) said reaction vial provided in step (i) is pretreated with HCl; or

(b) said buffering agent in step (i) is sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate; or

(c) the solution added in step (ii) to said reaction vial is obtained by eluting said radioactive isotope from a radioactive isotope generator, immediately before step (ii), using said predetermined amount of HCl as an elution solvent; or

(d) said mixing in step (iii) is carried out by stirring or shaking; or

(e) said radioactive isotope is 68Ga, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for 2 to 10, preferably 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature; or said radioactive isotope is 177Lu or 90Y, and the solution in step (iii) is incubated for about 30 minutes or more at a temperature of about 100°C or higher; or

(f) the pH of the solution in step (iv) is adjusted to a pH in a range of 4.0 to 8.0, by adding sodium formate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, sodium hydroxide, or sodium citrate.


 
10. A method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 68Ga, said method comprising the steps of:

(i) providing a reaction vial containing about 800-1800 mg sodium formate and about 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried;

(ii) adding a solution of 68Ga in about 1.8 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 68Ga in said HCl, wherein said solution of 68Ga in HCl is obtained from a 68Ga generator, immediately before this step, using said HCl as an elution solvent;

(iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for 2 to 10, preferably 2 to 6, minutes at room temperature, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 68Ga and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 68Ga; and

(iv) optionally adjusting the pH of the solution in said reaction vial to a pH in a range of 4.0 to 8.0, by adding about 0.1 ml sodium hydroxide IN,

wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

         I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

wherein
R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and either: (a) L is 6-aminohexanoic acid linked via the carboxylic group thereof to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is HBED-CC linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the 6-aminohexanoic acid; or (b) L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.
 
11. A method for labeling a PSMA ligand with 177Lu or 90Y, said method comprising the steps of:

(i) providing a reaction vial containing sodium formate and 10 µg of said PSMA ligand, wherein both the sodium formate and said PSMA ligand are dried;

(ii) adding a solution of 177Lu or 90Y in about 0.5 ml of HCl 0.1N to said reaction vial, thus obtaining a solution of said PSMA ligand and said 177Lu or 90Y in said HCl; and

(iii) mixing the solution obtained in (ii) and then incubating it for about 30 minutes at a temperature of about 100°C or higher, thus reacting said PSMA ligand with said 177Lu or 90Y and obtaining said PSMA ligand labeled with 177Lu or 90Y,

wherein said PSMA ligand is of the general formula I':

         I'     R1-CO-R2-L-B

wherein
R1 is a glutamic acid residue linked via its amino group to the adjacent -CO-group; R2 is a lysine residue linked via its α-amino group to the adjacent -CO- group; and L is Amc-2Nal or Amc-1Nal linked via the carboxylic group of the 2Nal or 1Nal, respectively, to the side chain amino group of R2; and B is DOTA linked via a carboxylic group thereof to the amino group of the Amc.
 





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Search report




Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Non-patent literature cited in the description