Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Laboratories of Radiopharmaceutical Research


Under the direction of Mathew Thakur, PhD, the lab's researchers are creating new ways of diagnosing and staging a variety of common cancers as a low-cost, high-accuracy alternative to standard biopsy procedures.

Biopsies are associated with morbidity and high costs, and more than 65 percent of the 1.5 million biopsies performed each year in the United States show benign pathology, indicating a high false-positive rate. Early detection and intervention are associated with significantly improved outcomes for cancer patients, demonstrating a real need for non-invasive methods that can accurately stage tumors, detect recurrent disease and image metastatic lesions with improved reliability.

Researchers collect cells from bodily fluid (urine for prostate imaging and nipple discharge for breast) or a lavage (rinse) in the case of lung tissue imaging, to noninvasively gather samples. These cells are then exposed to a tailor-made radiomolecule, which bonds with protein receptors that develop on the surface of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells.

Their radioactive signature causes these synthetic molecules to light up under PET imaging to highlight any malignant cells. However, because cells are collected and tested separately, the patient is not exposed to any of the already clinically low levels of radiation.

In trials, this method has shown to be 97% percent accurate in diagnosing prostate cancer, and has shown similar success in the lungs and breast. 

To learn more, contact
Mathew Thakur, PhD
(215) 503-7874

Jefferson Alumni Hall
1020 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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