What are Radioligands?

Radioligands are a new tool in the Oncologist’s toolbox of cancer treatments. The word Radioligands is a combination of the word ligand, a term from chemistry which refers to a molecule that binds to another molecule, and radio, as in radioactivity. Radioligands work like cancer-seeking missiles – the ligand seeks out and binds to tumor cells, and the radioactive molecule destroys the tumor cells’ DNA.

In some cases, radioligand cancer treatments could have fewer or less severe side effects than common cancer treatments like direct beam radiation therapy or chemotherapy, and therefore could be preferable for some patients and their family.

Cancer treatments which utilize radioligands are commonly referred to as Radioligand Therapy or Theranostics – both of these terms generally refer to the same type of treatments.