An emerging field, theranostics refers to a combined therapy and diagnostics approach to patient treatment. It involves the use of a diagnostic drug to first identify and label tumor cells – followed by the delivery of a therapeutic isotope (radioactive drug) to then kill the identified tumors.
Whilst used to diagnose and treat neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) for many years, researchers and biotech companies are making new discoveries in prostate, brain, kidney, ovarian cancer and neurological disorders.
In late 2021 NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia and the National Theranostics Roundtable Committee brought together stakeholders from around Australia to discuss – The Future of Precision Oncology in Nuclear Medicine. Despite Australia being in an enviable position with an expert nuclear specialist workforce, cutting edge research, new and emerging biotech companies, and manufacturing and sovereign capabilities through the Australian Nuclear and Science Organisation (ANSTO), future proofing these competences, upscaling, and most importantly having a HTA system that can adapt to new discoveries and technologies need to be ensured.
“Delivery of the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time is at the heart of Theranostics and requires a whole system approach” says Simone Leyden CEO of NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia who chaired the organizing committee. “We must ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit, from new discoveries, research trials to manufacturing and distribution, and have a regulatory environment that guarantees patients receive these breakthroughs in a timely and equitable way” she said.
The report from this first National Theranostics Roundtable summarizes the many aspects presented at the event required for this precision medicine, hearing from researchers, clinicians, industry and from the Chairs of the MSAC, TGA and Cancer Australia.
The next steps are to put forward theranostics as part of precision medicine considerations in the upcoming HTA review, as well as hold another forum concentrating on Theranostics Horizon Scanning and how Australia can maintain their capabilities in this fast-moving space.