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What is RLT?

Radioligand therapy (RLT) is an innovative approach to treating certain types of cancer. RLT delivers radiation to cancer cells in a targeted and precise way.1


How does RLT work?

A radioligand is made of two key parts: a ligand, which can bind to cancer cells that have a particular surface receptor, and a radioisotope, which emits therapeutic radiation. These two parts work like a lock and a key to deliver targeted radiation to tumour sites.1

Once bound, the radioligand is internalised into the tumour cell. The radiation released from the radioisotope leads to the formation of free radicals, resulting in localised DNA damage and cell death,2 with a limited effect on surrounding healthy tissue.2,3

Radioligands can be customised for diagnostic (imaging) or therapeutic (treatment) purposes simply by changing the type of radioisotope. Combining the diagnostic and treatment processes is known as theranostics.

Many different types of ligands can be used for RLT, such as small molecules, peptides and antibodies.1 When a peptide ligand is used, such as a somatostatin analogue, this therapy is often referred to as peptide receptor radionuclide therapy or PRRT. While the name is different, the process and capabilities are the same.

If you are interested in learning more about diagnostic and therapeutic isotopes, Advanced Accelerator Applications has an expanding pipeline of complementary precision imaging radioligands and targeted radioligand therapies for oncology indications.

View our investigational pipeline here:


About us:


Advanced Accelerator Applications, a Novartis company, is an innovative medicines company focused on the development of products for targeted radioligand therapy and precision radioligand imaging. Founded in 2002, by physicist Stefano Buono, who was inspired to pursue medical applications for certain research conducted during his tenure at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, with Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia. Advanced Accelerator Applications is committed to advancing the science in radioligand therapy, with the aim of identifying enhanced detection and diagnostic approaches and developing innovative treatments that improve patient outcomes. For further information, click here to visit the Advanced Accelerator Applications website.

1. Virgolini I, et al. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2018;45(3):471–95.
2. LUTATHERA® (lutetium [177Lu] oxodotreotide) SmPC. Available from: (Accessed December 2023).
3. SNMMI (2018). Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) Fact Sheet. Available from: (Accessed December 2023).
AAA-Lu177-UK-2145 (v2.0) | December 2023

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