Natural metals are proving very effective identifiers of diseased tissue and are even used as treatment carriers in today's nanotherapies. These compounds are known as theranostic agents because of their ability to both diagnose and deliver treatment to a tumor or other diseased site. Two Virginia universities have recently published the results of their theranostic discovery and its use for brain cancer treatment on animal models.
The theranostic agent discovered by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Virginia Polytechnical University is a nanosphere (buckyball) filled with MRI sensitive gadolinium attached to radioactive lutetium 177, the therapy used to treat glioblastomas, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer.
As lutetium 177 has strong clustering properties, it tends to stay in the area of the tumor longer than most compounds used for treatment. The researchers expect that this characteristic will enable the therapy to stay in the area and prevent or delay surrounding cancerous growth. The gadolinium will continue to provide imaging properties so that a re-administration of the therapy would not be necessary.
“This theranostic agent could potentially provide critical data about tumor
response to therapy by means of longitudinal imaging without further contrast
administration,” said Dr. Panos Fatouros, radiation physicist from the VCU School of Medicine.
The gadolinium/radioactive lutetium 177 theranostic agent was successful in treating brain cancers in animal models of the disease. The research study will appear in a future issue of the journal Radiology.