In July 2015, the Department of Nuclear Medicine at UP, in collaboration with Steve Biko Academic Hospital, ITG Isotopes Technologies and NTP Radioisotopes (a subsidiary of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation), pioneered an exciting first-in-human anti-cancer procedure utilising a combination of radiopharmaceutical diagnosis and therapy. The procedure was developed by ITG and performed in South Africa for the very first time by Prof Sathekge and his team, along with Dr Sebastian Marx and Dr Marian Meckel of ITG and Dr Otto Knoesen of NTP.
The approach entails a combination of therapy and diagnostics (theranostics) in which the same type of targeting molecule is used to obtain images and to deliver the dose of therapeutic isotope selectively to the tumour site, allowing for patient-specific dose calculation. It is expected that this procedure will especially be of great benefit to patients suffering the debilitating effects of metastatic bone disease.
To date, more than 100 imaging procedures and treatments employing therapeutic radiopharmaceutical agents have been performed with great success at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. In 2015 Prof Sathekge also performed Africa’s first isotope-labelled theranostics procedure for prostate cancer. This type of procedure has since been done several times and will be performed routinely in future.