Personalized Cancer Diagnostics and Therapies

Johns Hopkins is a leader in the development and use of theranostics.  The Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has pioneered the development of imaging and theranostic agents for prostate cancer. 

Our Center was the first in the State of Maryland to offer 117Lu-DOTATATE, with several hundred infusions performed to date.  As this field is rapidly evolving, new agents will become available.  The Center will adopt them on an ongoing basis for safe, effective management of a variety of cancers. 

What is Theranostics?

Theranostics, a burgeoning new field arising from nuclear medicine, is the combination of imaging and molecular radiotherapy. Imaging, generally positron emission tomography (PET), is used to identify the tumor. The therapy in this case is a radiopharmaceutical – a radioactive drug that, like the PET agent that identified it, specifically targets cancer while leaving most normal, non-target tissues alone. Unlike external beam radiotherapy, molecular radiotherapy carries the radioactivity, in the form of particles that are emitted from the radiopharmaceutical, directly to the tumor.

The Center operates in close coordination with our partners in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our most active service at present implements 177Lu-DOTATATE, for patients with neuroendocrine tumors. A 68Ga-DOTATATE PET scan is used to identify tumors that will concentrate the corresponding therapeutic (177Lu-DOTATATE). Having such tumors is one of the criteria to be a candidate for this therapy. We have found this therapy to be safe and well tolerated, with patients frequently relating an improved quality of life.

Lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan

Like Lutetium Lu 177 dotatate, Lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan is administered by brief intravenous infusion on an outpatient basis. It is provided in up to six cycles of therapy, which are eight weeks apart. Pluvicto concentrates within prostate tumors that express the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). Accordingly, candidates for this therapy must undergo a PSMA PET scan that shows that their tumor(s) concentrate the PET agent, which would be indication that they would also concentrate the corresponding radiotherapeutic. Pluvicto is well-tolerated, with few side effects, can provide relief from pain and may prolong life.

Clinical Trials

Molecular Radiotherapy | Bob's Story

Robert “Bob” Charnley’s carcinoid syndrome symptoms forced him to be homebound and despite multiple surgeries, give up his favorite activities. After multiple opinions, Bob came to Johns Hopkins and was referred to the Department of Radiology for a novel cancer therapy using theranostics. Watch Bob’s journey as molecular radiotherapy allows him to return to his everyday life and make a long awaited dream trip come true. Please note parts of this video were filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patient Information

Meet Your Treatment Team

Nuclear Medicine Radiotheranostic Center Director

Lilja Bjork Solnes, M.D., M.B.A.

  • Director, Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
  • Director of Radiotheranostics
  • Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science
  • Assistant Professor of Oncology

Your Treatment Team

A Cahid Civelek, M.D.

  • Director, Nuclear Medicine Residency Program
  • Director, Nuclear Medicine and Clinical PET/CT Fellowship Program
  • Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science
Danielle Rill, B.S.,CNMT,R.T.(N)(CT)(ARRT)

Senior Radiotheranostics Technologist

danielle rill
Avery Spitz, RN,MSN

Radiotheranostics Nurse Navigator

avrey spitz
Jeffrey Young, B.S.,CNMT,R.T.(CT)(ARRT)

Radiotheranostics Manager

jeffery young