Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, Ohio
Professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering and Pathology, Case Western Reserve University

Research

Diagnostics and therapy together in one agent is called theranostics. Dr. Basilion’s theranostic approach to treating cancer utilizes a novel compound or probe developed in his lab. With the probe, clinicians first visualize the precise location of prostate cancer cells, followed by light-activation of the probe to kill only prostate cancer cells. Current prostate cancer treatments include surgical removal or radiation of the prostate, however these treatments lead to unwanted side effects of erectile dysfunction, incontinence and bowel urgency. Dr. Basilion sought to create a therapy which would effectively treat prostate cancer without causing these debilitating side effects.

With NFCR funding beginning in 2005, Dr. Basilion created the novel probe to bind prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) — a protein found on prostate cancer cells, allowing clinicians to identify the precise location of cancer. When light is shown on the probe bound to PMSA, the probe becomes activated and causes cellular stress, killing only prostate cancer cells. PSMA is also found in new blood vessels of all solid tumors, allowing Dr. Basilion’s theranostic approach to potentially enhance outcomes of image-guided surgery and light treatment for patients with breast, prostate, colorectal, pancreas, brain and liver tumors.

Years of NFCR support to Dr. Basilion’s laboratory efforts have led to promising experimental imaging technology now being commercialized through the AIM-HI Translational Research Initiative. To learn more, click here.

Bio

James P. Basilion, Ph.D., studied biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and attended graduate school at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He then completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and, during this time, he began a series of studies with investigators at the Center for Molecular Imaging Research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 1996, Dr. Basilion worked at a small genomics and anti-cancer biotech company and, in 1999, he joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital-Center for Molecular Imaging Research. He was later recruited at the Case Western Reserve University Schools of Medicine and Engineering and is currently a professor in both the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Basilion served as Director of the NFCR Center for Molecular Imaging from 2005 to 2017. Additionally, he serves as an external advisory board member for the Pacific Ovarian Cancer Research Consortium and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and was a standing member on the MEDI Study Section for the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Basilion has held several offices in the Society for Molecular Imaging (SMI), and was instrumental in the merger to form the World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS), where he served as treasurer.

Dr. Basilion provides reviews for several academic journals and holds editorial board positions for molecular imaging-centric journals. He has also founded Akrotome Imaging, Inc., a company devoted to the translation of molecular imaging technologies.

Related Content

What is Genomic Sequencing, and Who Can Benefit?

There’s a paradigm shift taking place in the world of cancer treatment. Experts are moving away from an organ-focused approach to treatment, like using radiation to treat the specific area affected by cancer. Instead, they’re looking at genomic sequencing.  Genomics is the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of an individual’s genes. Regarding cancer, genomics allows experts to examine DNA to determine an individual’s risk of cancer through genomic sequencing. This means that oncologists can provide more individualized treatment options for patients using precision medicine.  How can cancer risk be determined through genomic sequencing? Parents pass along many traits to their children, such as hair and eye color. Unfortunately, the risk of developing certain types of cancer can also pass along. By examining DNA, experts can identify certain changes in a person’s DNA known for increasing their risk of developing various types of cancer. However, not all cancers pass genetically. In fact, only five to ten percent of all cancers are believed to have an inherited gene mutation. It is important to note that no test can provide exact answers about a person’s inherited cancer risk. Genetic testing can tell whether a specific genetic mutation exists in the DNA. However, it cannot tell whether an individual will develop the disease associated with that mutation later in life or not. What is the benefit of genomic sequencing? Genomic sequencing cannot prevent a cancer diagnosis but can help identify cancer-related DNA mutations. This means an individual can implement precautionary measures. These measures could include making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, ceasing smoking, or reducing alcohol consumption. Depending on the type of mutation, medications may be available to reduce one’s risk of developing cancer. Similarly, genomic sequencing may highlight the option of surgery to remove an organ or gland to prevent cancer from forming or promote undergoing more health screenings regularly.  Who should utilize genomic sequencing? Experts typically only recommend genetic sequencing for patients whose families have a history of certain cancers or patterns of cancer. Doctors may order genetic testing for people that have: Multiple first-degree relatives with cancer diagnoses; Numerous relatives who have been diagnosed with the same cancer on one side of the family; A family history of cancers linked to a single gene mutation, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or pancreatic cancer; Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer; Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with cancer at a younger age than typically seen for that cancer, such as colon cancer; Close relatives who have been diagnosed with cancers linked to rare hereditary cancer syndromes, such as Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC), Cowden Syndrome, or Lynch Syndrome; or Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with rare cancer, such as breast cancer in a male. Can we expect more research in genomic sequencing?  National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is committed to advancing genomic research and its potential to be the future of developing treatment plans for cancer patients. As such, NFCR funds a dozen world-renowned researchers paving the way in genomic research. […]

Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Take Actions to Reduce Their Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

High Fiber Diet May Aid Melanoma Treatment