Colombo I, Overchuk M, Chen J, Reilly RM, Zheng G & Lheureux S
Despite the significant advancement achieved in understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for cancer transformation and aberrant proliferation, leading to novel targeted cancer therapies, significant effort is still needed to “personalize” cancer treatment. Molecular imaging is an emerging field that has shown the ability to characterize in vivo the molecular pathways present at the cancer cell level, enabling diagnosis and personalized treatment of malignancies. These technologies, particularly SPECT and PET also permit the development of novel radiotheranostic probes, which provide capabilities for diagnosis and treatment with the same agent. The small therapeutic index of most anticancer agents is a limitation in the drug development process. Incorporation of molecular imaging in clinical research may help in overcoming this limitation and favouring selection of patient populations most likely to achieve benefit from targeted therapy. This review will focus on two of the most advanced theranostic approaches with promising potential for application in the clinic: 1) therapeutic monoclonal antibodies which may be linked to a radionuclide for SPECT or PET imaging to guide cancer diagnosis, staging, molecular characterization, and assessment of the response to treatment and 2) multifunctional nanotechnology that allows image guided drug delivery through encapsulation of multiple therapeutic, targeting and imaging agents into a single nanoparticle. Porphysome, a liposome-like nanoparticle, is an example of a novel and promising application of nanotechnology for cancer diagnosis and treatment. These technologies have proven to be effective in preclinical models, warranting further clinical investigation to advance their application for the benefit of cancer patients.