Human cancer cells overexpress many peptide receptors as molecular targets. Radiolabeled peptides that bind with high affinity and specificity to the receptors on tumor cells hold great potential for both diagnostic imaging and targeted radionuclide therapy. The advantage of solid-phase peptide synthesis, the availability of different chelating agents and prosthetic groups and bioconjugation techniques permit the facile preparation of a wide variety of peptide-based targeting molecules with diverse biological and tumor targeting properties. Some of these peptides, including somatostatin, bombesin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, gastrin, neurotensin, exendin and RGD are currently under investigation. It is anticipated that in the near future many of these peptides may find applications in nuclear oncology. This article presents recent developments in the field of small peptides, and their applications in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Keywords: Radiolabeled peptides; radionuclide therapy; radionuclides; tumor imaging.