Project: Neuroendocrine Tumors

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) arise from endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues. The unique phenotype of different NETs leads to new challenges in diagnosis and treatment.

The phenotype of specific NETs depends on their cellular origin, but often they are slow growing which means they are difficult to localize with established imaging methods such as 18F-FDG PET. A variety of NETs express Somatostatin receptors (SSTRs), and thus radiopharamceuticals targeting SSTRs such as 68Ga-DOTATATE are now established imaging markers. DOTATATE peptide bearing a radioactive “payload” (e.g. 177Lu) can even be used as effective treatment by selectively targeting the NETs after administration.

However, NETs that do not express SSTRs are still invisible even for modern nuclear medicine. The molecular phenotypes of these subsets of NETs are slowly being unraveled, and its has been shown that almost all NETs express one of SSTRs, GLP1R or GIPR. We are therefore committed to developing radiopharmaceuticals for these molecular targets to assist in NET diagnosis, management and possibly even treatment of in the future. The GLP1R agonist 68Ga-Exendin4 is currently employed in both preclinical and clinical evaluation.