Molecular radionuclide targeting of head and neck cancer

Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways, for example by different protein expressions on the cell surface. In targeted radionuclide therapy (TRT), we take advantage of these differences, by using e.g. antibodies to target these structures, and by arming these “missiles” with radionuclides. By delivering the radioactivity directly to the tumour cells, small metastases and disseminated tumour cells can be found and eradicated in the body. By using radionuclides as warheads, multidrug resistance can be avoided, and the need to target every single tumor cell is reduced.

There is great potential for targeted radionuclide therapy in the treatment of head and neck cancer. In this disease there is a vast need for a systemic treatment that is effective in locating or treating metastases at distant sites and minimal residual disease at the local and regional levels. Furthermore, head and neck cancer is intrinsically radiosensitive, and is therefore especially suitable for TRT.

In the Head and Neck Targeting Group, we are studying several steps in the targeting process. Different protein structures, targeting molecules and radionuclides are assessed, and the different properties of the constructed radioconjugates are evaluated. By creating and evaluating novel tumour seeking radioconjugates, we hope to provide more sensitive and specific methods for identifying and treating head and neck cancer, and hopefully help improve long-term survival rates for this patient group in the future. 

Members of the group
Marika Nestor, Principal Investigator
Karl Sandström
Anna-Karin Haylock
Kristina Lundberg
Tomas Ekberg
Göran Laurell
Eva Lindell Jonsson

We have a well-functioning collaboration with the research group of Professor Sophia Hoper at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden since several years. We also have well-established collaborations with Dr Tolmachev and Dr Orlova, Uppsala University, Sweden, experts in molecular imaging, and with Dr Sandström at the Nuclear Medicine Department at Akademiska Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden, for molecular imaging studies. We also collaborate with Professor Sir David Lane at the University of Dundee, Scotland, and IMCB in Singapore, Professor John McCafferty (University of Cambridge, UK) and Dr Ronny Falk (Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Sweden). Our group has also well functioning connections with Dr Greg Adams, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, USA, Dr Jacek Capala, NCI/NIH, Washington D.C., USA, Professor Guus van Dongen, Free University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Professor Reidar Grénman, Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck. Surgery, University of Turku, Finland.