Molecular Imaging & Therapy Program

Hoag’s Molecular Imaging & Therapy Program is the only program of its kind in Orange County that builds upon Hoag’s personalized, science-based approach to cancer care.

Hoag is helping pioneer the most sensitive imaging methods to date to advance research and applications of molecular imaging and therapy in the treatment of cancer patients. These trials are expected to play a significant role in cancer detection, individualized treatment and drug development. The future of cancer detection and therapy is offered today at Hoag.


What is Molecular Imaging & Therapy?

Molecular imaging and therapy is an emerging research discipline that uses cell biology, molecular biology and diagnostic imaging to detect and treat cancer at a cellular level. Current imaging tools allow physicians to see the anatomical shape of a tumor. With molecular imaging, Hoag physicians look deeper, viewing cancer cells at a molecular level, well before structural changes can be seen on traditional imaging.

Using molecular imaging, Hoag physicians can better visualize, characterize and quantify the biological processes taking place in a patient’s body. This depth of knowledge arms Hoag physicians with early disease detection by locating the exact extent of a patient’s cancer and predicting, in addition to evaluating, a treatment response.

“Molecular imaging can direct oncologists right to a cancer, rather than to where we guess it might be,” said Dr. Ulaner, MD, PhD, FACNM. “These technologies also show promise in helping us to evaluate potential targets on an individual patient’s cancer cells, to determine who will respond best to different types of treatment.”

When disease has progressed, or there is biochemical evidence of recurrence, molecular therapy can be utilized. Molecular therapy is similar to molecular imaging, except the molecule targeting the cancer cell is now labeled with a very high dose of radiation to treat cancer cells.

A side by side comparison of traditional CT imaging on the left vs. molecular imaging on the right. Molecular imaging, which utilizes PET/CT imaging in combination with specially designed molecules that bind to targets on cancer cells, found cancer unlike traditional CT imaging.


How Does it Work?

Specially-designed molecules that have been developed to target specific cancer cells are administered into a patient’s body. The molecules contain radiotracers, a kind of tumor-specific dye that “lights up” in a PET/CT scan. This imaging creates a picture for physicians of exactly where cancer cells are in the body.

The difference between molecular imaging and molecular therapy is the degree of radiation used in the designed molecule.

Meet the Team

Hoag’s Molecular Imaging & Therapy team is paving new paths for promising cancer imaging and therapy.

  • Gary A. Ulaner, MD

    • James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair in Molecular Imaging and Therapy
    • Director, Molecular Imaging and Therapy
  • Beth Thomsen, CNMT

    • Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Molecular Imaging & Therapy Trials

Hoag’s molecular imaging and molecular therapy trials are some of the first and only trials of their kind in California and even the United States. Hoag’s Molecular Imaging & Therapy Program offers the following trials:

  • Breast Cancer Imaging Trial – Estrogen receptor-targeted imaging compared to standard-of-care Imaging in patients with breast cancer
    (Open to patients with newly diagnosed and suspected recurrence of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer)
  • Prostate Cancer Imaging Trial – PSMA-targeted imaging of prostate cancer (Open to patients with newly diagnosed and biochemically recurrent prostate cancer.)
  • Prostate Cancer Therapy Trial – PSMA-targeted radioligand therapy in combination with enzalutamide in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
    (Open to patients with metastatic prostate cancer who have progressed on Abiraterone. This trial is known as the ARROW trial).
  • Myeloma Imaging Trial – CD38-targeted ImmunoPET of Myeloma
    (Open to patients with multiple myeloma that is either newly diagnosed or with planned change in therapy)


Contact Us

To inquire about a molecular imaging or molecular therapy clinical trial, please call 877-422-9477.

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