FDA-Approved Radiopharmaceuticals

Radiopharmaceuticals have been steadily gaining recognition in medical imaging and targeted therapies. These pharmaceutical agents contain radioactive isotopes that emit radiation, which specialised imaging devices can detect. The FDA has approved several radiopharmaceuticals for various applications, including diagnosis, treatment evaluation, and therapy. One of the most well-known FDA-approved radiopharmaceuticals is Technetium-99m, used since the 1960s. This versatile agent can be incorporated into various compounds to target specific organs or physiological systems. Technetium-99m is primarily employed in single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging to assess the function of organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain and to detect cancer metastases. Another important radiopharmaceutical is Fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging standard. FDG accumulates in cells with high glucose metabolism, making it particularly useful for identifying tumours, as cancer cells are known for their increased metabolic activity. This agent has revolutionised cancer diagnosis, staging, and treatment response evaluation. Gallium-68 Dotatate is another FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical used in PET imaging. It specifically binds to somatostatin receptors, which are overexpressed in neuroendocrine tumours. This selective binding allows for accurate tumour localisation, disease staging, and monitoring of treatment response in patients with neuroendocrine tumours. In addition to diagnostic applications, radiopharmaceuticals have also shown potential in targeted therapies. Lutetium-177 Dotatate, for instance, is an FDA-approved peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) that targets somatostatin receptor-positive neuroendocrine tumours. This therapeutic radiopharmaceutical minimises damage to healthy tissue and has demonstrated improved progression-free survival in clinical trials by delivering targeted radiation directly to the tumour site. Another example of a therapeutic radiopharmaceutical is Radium-223 dichloride, which is approved for treating metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer with bone metastases. Radium-223 mimics calcium and selectively targets areas of bone metastases, delivering alpha radiation to cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. Iodine-131 is a well-established therapeutic radiopharmaceutical used to treat hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. It accumulates in thyroid tissue, emitting beta radiation that destroys the overactive or cancerous cells, thus restoring normal thyroid function or eliminating malignant tissue. The FDA-approved radiopharmaceuticals mentioned above represent only a fraction of the growing field. Ongoing research and development of novel radiopharmaceuticals hold immense potential for improving the accuracy of disease diagnosis, monitoring treatment response, and providing targeted therapies for various conditions. As our understanding of molecular biology advances, so will the development of innovative radiopharmaceuticals that can revolutionise modern medicine.

Last Updated: 04NOV2023

Open Medscience