what are radioligand therapies?

Radioligand cancer therapies (RLTs) represent an innovative approach to cancer treatment in which radiation is delivered to cancer cells in a targeted and precise way. RLTs are composed of a targeting molecule (ligand) attached to a therapeutic radioisotope. Cancer cells have specific molecules on their surface which may not be present on healthy cells. The ligand utilises this difference to deliver radiation directly to cancer cells, regardless of where they are in the body.

The treatment is currently established for neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) and metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Over the past two decades, an increasing uptake of RLT has been observed, including the official integration into care pathways and guidelines - as a second- or third-line treatment option. RLTs are part of a wider concept known as radiotheranostics, which, alongside radioligand therapies, include radionuclide therapy, radioimmunotherapy and selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT).

Radioligand therapies have shown the potential to change cancer patients’ outlook on their disease. They can help patients in reducing bone pain, improve progression-free and overall survival, as well as patients’ quality of life (QoL).

In the case of advanced prostate cancer, the availability of radioligand therapies offers benefits for many men with
these aggressive cancers, with few side effects and significant improvements in QoL.