BACKGROUND:Targeted therapy of HER2 positive breast cancer has led to clinical success in some cases with primary and secondary resistance being major obstacles. Due to the substantial involvement of mTOR kinase in cell growth and proliferation pathways it is now targeted in combination treatments to counteract HER2 targeted therapy resistance. However, the selection of receptive patient populations for a specific drug combination is crucial. This work aims to develop a molecular probe capable of identifying patients with tumour populations which are receptive to RAD001 combination therapy. Based on the structure of a mTOR inhibitor specific for mTORC1, we designed, synthesised and characterised a novel benzofuran based molecular probe which suits late stage fluorination via Click chemistry. RESULTS:Synthesis of the alkyne precursor 5 proceeded in 27.5% yield over 7 linear steps. Click derivatisation gave the non-radioactive standard in 25% yield. Radiosynthesis of [18F]1-((1-(2-Fluoroethyl)-1H-1,2,3-triazol-4-yl) methyl)-4-((5-methoxy-2-phenylbenzofuran-4-yl) methyl) piperazine ([18F]mBPET-1) proceeded over two steps which were automated on an iPhase FlexLab synthesis module. In the first step, 2-[18F]fluoroethylazide ([18F]6) was produced, purified by automated distillation in 60% non-decay-corrected yield and subjected to Click conditions with 5. Semi-preparative RP-HPLC purification and reformulation gave [18F]mBPET-1 in 40% ± 5% (n = 6) overall RCY with a process time of 90 min. Radiochemical purity was ≥99% at end of synthesis (EOS) and ≥ 98% after 4 h at room temperature. Molar activities ranged from typically 24.8 GBq/μmol (EOS) to a maximum of 78.6 GBq/μmol (EOS). Lipophilicity of [18F]mBPET-1 was determined at pH 7.4 (logD7.4 = 0.89). [18F]mBPET-1 showed high metabolic stability when incubated with mouse S9 liver fractions which resulted in a 0.8% drop in radiochemical purity after 3 h. Cell uptake assays showed 1.3-1.9-fold increased uptake of the [18F]mBPET-1 in RAD001 sensitive compared to insensitive cells across a panel of 4 breast cancer cell lines. CONCLUSION:Molecular targeting of mTOR with [18F]mBPET-1 distinguishes mTOR inhibitor sensitive and insensitive cell lines. Future studies will explore the ability of [18F]mBPET-1 to predict response to mTOR inhibitor treatment in in vivo models.