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Experimental results and related clinical implications of PET detection of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) in cancer

Ann Oncol 2009; 20: 213–226


Pantaleo MA, Nannini M, Maleddu A, Fanti S, Nanni C, Boschi S, Lodi F, Nicoletti G, Landuzzi L, Lollini PL, Biasco G.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) is one of the most studied molecules as a target for cancer therapy. Over these last few years, several studies attempting to identify predictive biomarkers of treatment response, such as the receptor status or other molecules related to the downstream signalling pathway, have been conducted. However, from a clinical point of view, the information obtained from ex vivo analyses still has various limitations that may be overcome by the combination with molecular imaging technologies which may provide a noninvasive, global, in vivo evaluation of the molecular tumour background.

The aim of this review is to report the preclinical results of all positron emission tomography (PET) tracers synthesized until now for in vivo detection of EGFr in cancer.

Two classes of PET compounds have been developed: labelled small molecules such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors and labelled monoclonal antibodies. The in vitro and in vivo results of these PET tracers are very different depending on the chemical properties, positron emission radionuclide, or animal models. As a consequence, various critical questions are still open, and the implications of a translation in the clinical setting for EGFr imaging in cancer patients is discussed.

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