Once thought of as rare tumours, the incidence and prevalence of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) has risen over the last three decades. NETs are neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Figures from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database show a 520% increase, now surpassing other gastrointestinal tumours and sharing the same incidence rates as cancers of the cervix and multiple myeloma.
Imaging is a pivotal part of clinical workup when staging NET patients, as well as to aid in treatment decisions and predict response to therapy. Early work by Professor Adil Al-Nahhas and others in the development of 68Ga-DOTATATE has now evolved into routine use of this radiotracer internationally in the staging of neuroendocrine tumours, with endorsement of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust as a European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (ENETS) centre of excellence.
Because access to this radiopharmaceutical in the UK is limited, our scientists have developed a new fluorinated tracer, 18F-FET-βAG-TOCA, which will enable widespread application in the UK and beyond. Through Imperial College Confidence in Concept funding, we are now developing a theranostics peptide-based radiotherapy analogue of 18F-FET-βAG-TOCA which will allow patients showing positivity on PET to be effectively treated.