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Semin Nucl Med. 2005 Apr;35(2):143-51.

Radioimmunodetection and therapy of breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Radiodiagnosis and Therapy, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA 95816, USA.


Breast cancer is the second most-common cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Although more than 60% of patients can now be cured by initial treatment, the rest, although perhaps receiving palliation with currently available therapy, will die of their disease. Early detection of micrometastasis and improved treatment strategies are needed. Monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based imaging and tumor targeted therapy holds the potential to impact these problems. The most significant results of systemically administered antibody-based radiopharmaceuticals for detection and targeted therapy (radioimmunotherapy [RIT]) of breast cancer give strong evidence that this potential can be realized. Interest in immunoimaging recently has focused on small mAb modules used with 18F, 64Cu, or 124I to detect minimal disease in breast cancer by positron emission tomography or single-photon emission computed tomography. Reported therapy trials in advanced breast cancer have yielded objective responses and minimal toxicity. These studies have spanned several radionuclides as well as several mAb, fragments and approaches, including dose intensification with bone marrow support; combined therapy with other modalities (ie, CM-RIT); biodegradable peptide linkers; and pretargeting. RIT evaluated in clinical breast cancer trials has delivered as much as 4000 cGy to metastatic breast cancer per therapy dose with marrow stem cell support. Preclinical studies have demonstrated further promising strategies for breast cancer. RIT studies must address the key issue: enhancing the therapeutic index (tumor effect verses most sensitive normal tissue (bone marrow) effect). Approaches now include newly engineered mAb, scFv modular constructs, blood clearance on demand, enhanced pretargeting, applications of both alpha and beta emitting radionuclides, and combination therapy using molecular triggers for therapeutic synergy. These strategies for detection and treatment of metastatic breast cancer should lead to notable clinical impact on management and cure of breast cancer.

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