DOI: 10.1186/s41181-017-0026-8Pages: 1-14

Pretargeting for imaging and therapy in oncological nuclear medicine

1. CHU de Nantes, Service de Médecine Nucléaire

2. Institut de Cancérologie de l’Ouest, Service de Médecine Nucléaire

3. Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie Nantes/Angers (CRCNA)

4. 6299 CNRS

5. UMR892 Inserm

6. Université de Nantes

7. GIP Arronax

Correspondence to:
Jacques Barbet
Tel: +33 28 21 21 24




Oncological pretargeting has been implemented and tested in several different ways in preclinical models and clinical trials over more than 30 years. Despite highly promising results, pretargeting has not achieved market approval even though it could be considered the ultimate theranostic, combining PET imaging with short-lived positron emitters and therapy with radionuclides emitting beta or alpha particles.


We have reviewed the pretargeting approaches proposed over the years, discussing their suitability for imaging, particularly PET imaging, and therapy, as well as their limitations. The reviewed pretargeting modalities are the avidin-biotin system, bispecific anti-tumour x anti-hapten antibodies and bivalent haptens, antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates and radiolabelled complementary oligonucleotides, and approaches using click chemistry. Finally, we discuss recent developments, such as the use of small binding proteins for pretargeting that may offer new perspectives to cancer pretargeting.


While pretargeting has shown promise and demonstrated preclinical and clinical proof of principle, full-scale clinical development programs are needed to translate pretargeting into a clinical reality that could ideally fit into current theranostic and precision medicine perspectives.

This article is freely available, click here to access the full text/PDF

  • Accepted: May 24, 2017
  • Online: Jun 6, 2017

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