What is being done to get ready for radioligand therapy? This question was the focus of the ‘Readiness in reality: activities supporting the future of radioligand therapy’ event hosted by The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) on 17 November. The event was an opportunity to hear from leading experts who have spearheaded initiatives to improve readiness for radioligand therapy.

The event was hosted in conjunction with the launch of the Radioligand Therapy Readiness Hub; a collection of example activities that have helped to prepare health systems for radioligand therapy. The hub aims to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning between different locations, care settings and cancer types.

HPP Associate Director of Policy and Research, Lucy Morgan, who was moderating the event, began by giving an overview of what radioligand therapy is and what readiness for the therapy means.

In a recorded message, Simone Leyden, co-founder and board member of NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia, emphasized the importance of coming together to improve readiness for radioligand therapy, saying:

‘We need to see collaboration to get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.’

The event then moved onto a panel discussion, during which each of the panellists introduced the activities they have undertaken to improve readiness for radioligand therapy:

  • Professor Dr Ken Herrmann, University Hospital Essen, spoke about his involvement in the development of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guide for setting up a theranostics centre and establishing the joint European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and EANM theranostics course

  • Professor Dr Delphine Chen, University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, outlined the educational programs at the SNMMI’s Center for Molecular Imaging Innovation and Translation (learn more here)

  • Professor Dr Ron Ennis, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, touched on the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) framework for a patient care pathway for radioligand therapy

  • Professor Dr Lisa Bodei, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, introduced the SNMMI-designated Comprehensive Center of Excellence (radioligand therapy readiness hub post coming soon)

After the brief presentations came a panel discussion and audience Q&A, led by Lucy Morgan. The panellists began by considering the most important thing to be aware of when setting up a radioligand therapy centre. The suggestions ranged from figuring out reimbursement to involving and engaging patient advocates to establishing a strong relationship with referring providers. Professor Herrmann emphasised that the main priority is to be resilient against the many possible roadblocks, as ultimately being able to help people with cancer is worth the persistence.

More discussions followed on a range of topics, including:

  • The current status of radioligand therapy: ‘I started this work 22 years ago, and it was an unknown practice that was very hard to promote. Today, we have successful phase 3 registration trials, and we are discussing optimal timing, improvements, new theranostics etc.’ – Professor Bodei

  • The importance of multidisciplinary working: ‘Multidisciplinary working is crucial to making a programme successful. You need to go to the tumour board at your centre and engage with the discussions; you need to become part of the team.’ – Professor Ennis

  • The importance of shared learning and communication: ‘We need communication across the disciplines to ensure that we are all on the same page. We must learn from mistakes and be gracious so that we can optimise our workflows and continue to grow.’ – Professor Chen

  • How to discuss radioligand therapy with people who are reluctant to engage with it: ‘I think the most important thing is the need for compelling data from clinical trials. Once you can show survival and quality-of-life benefit, this makes all the difference.’ – Professor Herrmann

  • The different challenges in integrating radioligand therapy in the US and Europe: ‘In Europe nuclear medicine departments have therapy wards for the hospitalization of the patients undergoing radioligand therapies. This facilitates the expertise in patient management. Radioligand therapies have been performed for a long time in Europe. In the US treatments are largely performed on an outpatient basis and have been introduced more recently’ – Professor Bodei

Professor Chen ended the panel discussion by encouraging communication and shared learning. ‘People should go for it,’ she said. ‘Leverage the expertise from those around you. We are all happy to share expertise at any time, and societies are generating all this educational material.’

Find out more by visiting the readiness hub here.

We are still collecting examples for the hub. You can submit any work you are doing to get ready for radioligand therapy here.