Neuroblastoma is a malignant tumor, which develops from the nerve tissue in infants and children. This type of cancer affects six to ten percent of cancers found in children. Some children regress immediately while some others progress even after undergoing aggressive treatment. The life span of patients in the longer run is forty percent.
The new treatment method
A study tested the principle of combining positron emission tomography and X-ray computed tomography to treat selected children. The children are diagnosed with primary refractory or relapsed high-risk neuroblastoma. The treatment will include a molecular radiotherapy known as 177Lu-DOTATATE. The underlying assumption for this treatment to be beneficial was that in adults diagnosed with somatostatin-positive neuroendocrine tumors, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy improved their conditions. Therefore, since neuroblastoma in children also express somatostatin receptors, such a treatment could prove to be beneficial.
The sample include eight children
The study included eight children with relapsed or primary refractory neuroblastoma. They were imaged with a 68Ga-DOCTATE PET/CT scan. When the result of this imagery showed a greater uptake to the liver, the child was considered for the new molecular radiotherapy. The next stage of the treatment was found appropriate were six out of the eight children who formed a part of the study. After completion of the treatment, five of the six children showed stable disease under the response evaluation criterion. The new treatment was found to be feasible, practical, and was well tolerated by the patients with the high-risk neuroblastoma.
Further research to show the possible implications of the new therapy
The positive signs showed during the small clinical trial with the six children has encouraged the researchers to undertake further studies. The plan to formally evaluate the 177Lu-DOCTATE for toxicity and response will be undertaken for a phase I-II clinical trial. The molecular imaging contributes to the new diagnostic technology to map the complete extent of the disease. Children undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma often show a resistance to chemotherapy after a certain time period. Additionally, the results of the chemo are limited due to the low bone marrow reserves of the body. Therefore, this new treatment will provide such children whose neuroblastoma symptoms have become resistance to the other therapies with an additional option to increase their life span and the quality of their lives. The authors of the study included some of the well-known researchers in the field of trying to find new cures for neuroblastoma to improve the survival rate amongst children.