Progress in genomics and proteomics provides clinical oncology with new anti-cancer drugs, which target selectively aberrantly expressed membrane proteins and associated signalling pathways in malignant cells. Molecular targeting also enables specific delivery of cytotoxic substances to tumours sparing healthy tissues. Improved selectivity of the treatment reduces side effects and widens the therapeutic window. However, only a part of the patients might benefit from such treatment due to inter- and intrapatient heterogeneity of therapeutic target expression. This makes it necessary to identify patients, who may benefit from targeting therapy. Radiolabelled peptides can provide selective and sensitive detection of molecular therapeutic targets in both primary tumours and metastases in a single non-invasive procedure, making personalised treatment possible. The choice of detection method (single photon emission tomography or positron emission tomography), radionuclide for labelling and labelling chemistry can appreciably influence the imaging property of a tracer. The labelling method might affect the binding affinity, the cellular processing and retention of a radionuclide, the biodistribution of a targeting peptide, and excretion pathways of a non-bound tracer and radiocatabolites. This influences the sensitivity and specificity of the imaging. This influence is exemplified by three classes of tumour-targeting peptides: somatostatin analogues, bombesin analogues and Affibody molecules. The review suggests approaches for selection of an optimal labelling chemistry.
Keywords: Molecular imaging, cancer, peptides, radionuclide, radiolabelling, biodistribution, PET, SPECT
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