The rise of theranostics: Part 1 -- Gaining momentum

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approvals of radiopharmaceuticals for neuroendocrine tumors and then for prostate cancer, theranostics has picked up momentum in clinical practice, propelled by encouraging research.

Theranostics pairs diagnostic biomarkers that can be visualized on nuclear medicine imaging with therapeutic agents that share a specific target in diseased cells or tissues. After the therapeutic agent binds to the cancer cells, the tumors are treated in such a way that aims to prevent collateral damage to healthy cells and improve overall outcomes.

Theranostics isn’t new; nuclear medicine departments have provided thyroid cancer treatment with radioactive iodine (I-131) since the first half of the 20th century. Today, however, a new pillar of cancer treatment has emerged using the radionuclides gallium-68 (Ga-68) and lutetium-177 (Lu-177), and it appears to be advancing rapidly. Theranostics could be poised to become an accepted first-line therapy for some cancers.

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