Positron Emission Tomography (PET) serves as a highly accurate diagnostic imaging procedure frequently used in oncology. Minute amounts of molecular probes labeled with radioactive positron emitters called ‘radiotracers’ are injected into the bloodstream to target biochemical processes of a tumor in a patient to enable visualization and thereby diagnosis of various cancers.
Recently, radionuclide theranostics have rapidly become game-changers in precision diagnosis and highly personalized therapy of cancer, where the same targeting molecule is first labelled with a diagnostic radionuclide (positron emitter) to visualize the tumor, and then with a therapeutic radionuclide (beta or alpha emitter) for the subsequent targeted treatment.
A true theranostic approach is when the same molecular probe can be used as either a diagnostic with a positron emitter (like Cu-61) or therapeutic with a beta emitter (like Cu-67) of the same element. The advantage of this approach is that isotopes of the same element bind chemically in the exact same manner to the molecular probe. Thus, configuration and binding of the diagnostic and consequently the therapeutic to the cellular target is the same. As the expression of the cellular markers are different from one patient to another, the diagnostic PET tracer can be used to evaluate the exact amount of dose the patient would need of the therapeutic radiopharmaceutical in the concept of highly personalized medicine. Though highly effective, the main barrier to the use of radionuclide theranostic pharmaceuticals remains the availability of these short-lived radionuclides for both diagnostics and therapeutics.
Swiss Nuclides’ technology is based on two components: (1) a cyclotron hardware add-on to produce diagnostic radionuclides, positron emitters, which is used to label (2) molecular kits to produce diagnostic PET tracers. Through its cyclotron network across Europe, Swiss Nuclides’ immediate goal is to supply PET diagnostics to all key European radio-oncology centers and practitioners.