Molecular imaging approach advances personalized cancer therapy treatment

A new positron emission tomography (PET)-based technique has pushed nuclear medicine one step closer to developing personalized, precision cancer therapy treatments.

The noninvasive, whole-body imaging approach, known as 89Zr-immuno-PET, allows clinicians to quantify the uptake of antibodies in patients' tissue to predict the effectiveness of cancer therapy. Yvonne Jauw, MD, with the Cancer Center Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues shared their research in the December issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

“This research enables us to apply molecular imaging as a noninvasive clinical tool to measure antibody concentrations in normal tissues,” Jauw said in a statement.

Previously, the only way to determine this concentration was through invasive tissue sampling or by acquiring patient blood samples, the researchers noted.

For their study, Jauw and colleagues gathered scans from 36 patients that were completed one to seven days after they were injected with 89Zr-labeled antibodies.

After analyzing the scans, the team found that their molecular imaging approach optimized the detection of tumors throughout a patient’s body. Specifically, they could quantify “nonspecific” uptake of antibodies associated with repeated cellular replication in patient tissue at multiple time points.

The findings can serve as a base to measure how therapeutic antibodies engage with tumors in a living patient, the authors wrote, and moves the field another step closer to individualized cancer therapy.

“Knowledge of antibody distribution to normal tissues and tumors can be used to increase our understanding of which drugs will be effective and which drugs are likely to cause toxicity,” Jauw said in the statement.

In the future, the team plans to conduct further research that would include at least three scans at one or more days post-injection to determine nonspecific uptake as a “function of time.”