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Hoag Offers First Molecular Imaging and Therapy Clinical Trials in Orange County

Hoag now offers the only Molecular Imaging and Therapy cancer trials in Orange County, including the hospital’s first National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial. The two trials in this emerging field of medicine build on Hoag’s promise to offer the most advanced care possible to its patients.

Hoag is one of only 40 hospitals in the nation selected for the trial that will test a specific prostate therapy agent, and it is one of only two medical centers selected for the NIH-funded study in patients battling myeloma.

Both Phase 2 clinical trials are headed by Gary Ulaner, M.D., PhD., FACNM, director of the Molecular Imaging and Therapy Program at Hoag, who came to Hoag from Memorial Sloan Kettering this year. One trial is generously funded by philanthropy.

Dr. Ulaner describes the imaging and therapy agents used in these trials as “keys,” that fit the “locks” of specific cancer molecules. The prostate cancer trial will test PSMA I-131, a radioligand, which is made of two parts: a ligand, which can find specific surface molecules on cancer cells, and a radioisotope, which emits therapeutic radiation to kill those cells. Because the radioligand can target cells anywhere in the body, they show promise for metastatic cancer treatment.

“This trial targets a specific molecule on prostate cancer cells, known as Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA),” Dr. Ulaner said. “Agents like the one in this trial, have been incredibly successful in prolonging patient’s lives and improving their quality of life. We are very excited to offer this to our community.”

The myeloma trial, meanwhile, tests whether a highly targeted imaging agent, 89Zr-DFO-daratumumab, can help image the extent of myeloma disease burden and how well it responds to therapy.

“Both trials offer oncologists valuable insight that translates into more effective, less toxic treatment options for cancer,” Dr. Ulaner said.