The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) has invested more than $1.5 million in advancing a precision form of radiation therapy for NETs called Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT).
Improving efficacy and safety
Three NETRF-funded studies are looking at how existing approaches to PRRT can be improved to:
- Expand the number of patients able to benefit from PRRT
- Increase its precision to target even the smallest signs of cancer
- Reduce the toxicity of current treatments
In this video, you will meet the researchers who are exploring methods that may improve the benefits of PRRT for more people. Learn what they hope to discover.
- Rodney Hicks, MD, University of Melbourne, Australia, 2018 Accelerator Award
To help more people benefit from PRRT, Dr. Hicks is working to improve tumor cells’ ability to attach to radiopeptides. He is testing whether cells can be “prepped” using medications such as a PARP inhibitor (PARP). A PARP also can prevent cancer cell repair, which means it can stop cells from repairing damage caused by the radiation.
- Roger Schibli, PhD, Paul Sherrer Institut, Zurich, Switzerland, 2018 Petersen Investigator
To help prevent recurrence and metastasis of NETs, Dr. Schibli is testing a way to eliminate minute traces of cancer, down to a single cell. To do that, his lab is testing a new radionuclide called Terbium 161, which has a shorter range than current alternatives for more precise targeting.
- Thomas Hope, MD, University of California, San Francisco, 2016 NETRF/ERF Nuclear Medicine Pilot Grant
To try to reduce organ exposure to radiation, Dr. Hope conducted a pilot study to evaluate the safety of the radionuclide Yttrium-90 DOTA-TOC (Y90). The medication was delivered through the arteries (intra-arterial), as opposed to the veins (intra-venous), to concentrate dosages in tumors and limit toxicity.
What is PRRT?
PRRT uses radiopeptides to attach radioactive atoms to cancer cells. Some NET cells, unlike healthy cells, have proteins on their cell surface called receptors, that can bind to hormones, such as somatostatin. PRRT radiopeptides look for these receptors.
Lutetium 177 DOTA-TATE (Lu 177), a type of PRRT, was the first type of PRRT to receive USA FDA approval in January of 2018. It was approved for the treatment of somatostatin-receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), including foregut, midgut, and hindgut tumors in adults. PRRT has been used extensively in Europe over the last few decades.
PRRT: A promising advancement
PRRT is an exciting advancement in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Research shows that when used for the treatment of NETs, PRRT can help to:
- Increase survival
- Improve quality of life
- Relieve symptoms
- Decrease tumor size
PRRT is generally well tolerated. Common side-effects are nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Other less common side-effects are bone, liver, and kidney toxicity, and mild hair loss. But not everyone benefits from PRRT. As discussed, an individual’s tumors must be somatostatin-receptor positive.
Attracting the best and brightest
As the major private funder of NET research, NETRF is able to quickly pursue a promising advance in medicine like PRRT to recruit the most talented experts in the world.
“NETRF harnessed the world’s leading experts in PRRT to help us advance this therapeutic option to increase the benefits and reduce the risks,” said Elyse Gellerman, NETRF Chief Executive Officer.
NETRF uses a competitive and structured grant application process, supported by a distinguished Board of Scientific Advisors and external reviewers to fund only the highest caliber of research, capable of making a lasting impact on the field.
All research grants are made possible by generous gifts to the NET Research Foundation from patients, families, and friends of those who want to improve options for those affected by NETs.
Learn more about PRRT
- NETRF has featured information about PRRT in its free patient and family conferences. See recordings of NETRF’s PRRT patient talks in this playlist on YouTube
- Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Fact Sheet
- Search for a nuclear imaging and therapy treatment center near you
- Sign up to learn about other advancements in NETs
- See more information about NET treatments
- Donate to support NET research