Radiolabeled antibodies for cancer imaging and therapy

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;907:681-97. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-974-7_38.


Radiolabeled antibodies were studied first for tumor detection by single-photon imaging, but FDG PET stopped these developments. In the meantime, radiolabeled antibodies were shown to be effective in the treatment of lymphoma. Radiolabeling techniques are well established and radiolabeled antibodies are a clinical and commercial reality that deserves further studies to advance their application in earlier phase of the diseases and to test combination and adjuvant therapies including radiolabeled antibodies in hematological diseases. In solid tumors, more resistant to radiations and less accessible to large molecules such as antibodies, clinical efficacy remains limited. However, radiolabeled antibodies used in minimal or small-size metastatic disease have shown promising clinical efficacy. In the adjuvant setting, ongoing clinical trials show impressive increase in survival in otherwise unmanageable tumors. New technologies are being developed over the years: recombinant antibodies and pretargeting approaches have shown potential in increasing the therapeutic index of radiolabeled antibodies. In several cases, clinical trials have confirmed preclinical studies. Finally, new radionuclides, such as lutetium-177, with better physical properties will further improve the safety of radioimmunotherapy. Alpha particle and Auger electron emitters offer the theoretical possibility to kill isolated tumor cells and microscopic clusters of tumor cells, opening the perspective of killing the last tumor cell, which is the ultimate challenge in cancer therapy. Preliminary preclinical and preliminary clinical results confirm the feasibility of this approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / therapeutic use*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Radioimmunotherapy / methods*
  • Radiometry
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antibodies