The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Netspot, a radioactive diagnostic agent for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. This agent will help locate tumors in patients with the rare condition, somatostatin receptor positive neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).
PET imaging is being widely adopted as an important tool for oncological, cardiovascular and neurological applications, as well as for preclinical studies. At the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), researchers introduced several studies that demonstrated its growing benefits.
Today’s blog will explore these latest findings.
NETs are rare tumors that develop in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system. They are found throughout the body in organs, such as the stomach, intestines, lungs and others. Clinicians now believe Netspot can help them determine the location and extent of these tumors.
Netspot is supplied as a single-dose kit for preparation of Ga 68 dotatate. NETs have receptors for somatostatin, a hormone that regulates the endocrine system. Ga 68 dotatate works by binding to such receptors. The uptake of Ga 68 dotatate reflects the level of somatostatin receptor density in NETs.
In a press release announcing Netspot’s approval, the FDA revealed that three studies had successfully established the safety and effectiveness of the imaging agent. According to the release:
“The first compared Ga 68 dotatate images of NETs to images obtained with an approved drug, and then confirmed with computed tomography (CT) and/ or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); the second evaluated Ga 68 dotatate images using histopathology (the study of tissue changes caused by disease), or clinical follow up as reference standards; and the third evaluated patients with NET recurrence using Ga 68 dotatate images.”
The results of all three studies confirmed that Ga 68 dotatate images were successful in determining the location of NETs. As a result, the FDA granted Priority Review and orphan drug designations for Netspot.
But this is just the latest in a string of research that highlights the effectiveness of PET imaging.
Identifying autoimmune inflammation in MS
More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide, according to estimates from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Researchers believe molecular imaging is bringing them closer to detecting early signs of autoimmune inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS). They introduced their study at this month’s 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). This is the latest in a growing body of research that points to sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) as an ideal biomarker for imaging and new therapies.
The study found that PET imaging agents could successfully detect an increase in S1P1 expression in animals with an inflammatory response. Further, it also found that the compounds crossed the blood brain barrier in healthy animals, a significant limiting factor in the development of central nervous system drugs.
Helps Monitor Lung Cancer Treatment Response
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common form of lung cancer, and is notoriously difficult to treat with chemotherapy. New research presented at the SNMMI conference shows that PET can help clinicians to better monitor atezolizumab treatments in NSCLC patients.
For the study, researchers used a tracer molecule called fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (F-18 FDG). The molecule is taken up by cells in need of energy. Tissues with a high demand for energy, such as fast-growing tumors, suck up more of the compound allowing them to be seen on a screen.
The study enrolled 138 patients with non-small cell lung cancer from 28 clinical institutions across five countries. Patients were examined with PET at the beginning of the study, and again after six weeks of intravenous atezolizumab therapy.
The study showed that patients who had a larger active tumor volume at study start had a lower chance of survival.
Provides accurate biopsy guide for prostate cancer
Approximately one out of seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime. It is the leading cancer among men. While surgical removal remains the frontline of defense, researchers say PET imaging can be used for initial biopsy and pre-operative planning to root out the full extent of the disease.
PET can detect prostate cancer by combining a small amount of radioactive material called gallium-68 and the molecular compound PSMA-HBED-CC. Injected prior to PET scanning, the agent works by binding to cells and emitting a signal that can be detected by a scanner.
The results showed that 67 percent of segmented tissues that tested positive for cancer via histological evaluation were also positively identified by PET imaging.
These are some examples of the promising advances being made in the field of PET imaging. The findings from these studies demonstrate PET imaging’s potential to improve patient care by detecting disease and aiding early diagnosis.
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