Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has been named a Radiopharmaceutical Therapy Center of Excellence (RTCoE) by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), a distinction held by only 17 centers in the U.S.

September 8, 2022 — Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has been named a Radiopharmaceutical Therapy Center of Excellence (RTCoE) by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), a distinction held by only 17 centers in the U.S., including Stanford Health Care, Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Francisco.

The designation is a recognition of Hoag’s leading advancements in the burgeoning field of nuclear medicine research and treatment, according to the SNMMI. 

“Radiopharmaceutical therapy represents an exciting new tool in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer, and we are honored to be recognized for our pioneering work in this emerging field,” said Hoag CEO and President Robert T. Braithwaite. “This distinction is both an accomplishment and a promise to our patients and community that Hoag will continue to conquer cancer.”

As a Radiopharmaceutical Therapy Center of Excellence, Hoag will continue to lead the nation in testing and offering evidence-based therapies to improve patient care at Hoag and throughout the world, said Gary A. Ulaner, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.N.M, James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair in Molecular Imaging and Therapy and director of Molecular Imaging and Therapy for the Hoag Family Cancer Institute.

“Over time, there will likely be improvements in second- and third-generation agents, which will make it important to develop more therapies,” Dr. Ulaner said. “Here at Hoag, we are offering the same therapies that are being offered at Memorial Sloan Kettering and other leading cancer institutions worldwide. Patients are often relieved to learn that they have access to these therapies right here in Orange County.”

The elite SNMMI designation comes on the heels of the publication of two important peer-reviewed studies coming out of Hoag about the potential for nuclear medicine to change the course of cancer care.

Dr. Ulaner recently published two papers that analyzed molecular imaging in prostate cancer, as well as a separate study studying the effectiveness of imaging in a new targeted breast cancer therapy. His studies appeared in the journals Radiology and Nature Communications, respectively. 

“With philanthropic support from the community, Hoag has continuously prioritized providing the best patient care available. With these innovative research programs, Hoag is developing and delivering the future of patient care,” said Dr. Ulaner.

Molecular medicine advanced earlier this year when the FDA approved the first targeted radioligand therapy for prostate cancer patients whose tumor cells contain a protein called prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The therapy, known commercially as Pluvicto, is the first FDA-approved PSMA-targeted radiotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer.

Hoag’s Molecular Imaging & Therapy program is the only program in Orange County to offer Pluvicto, as well as several similar radiotherapies that are currently in clinical trials for prostate and other cancers.

In addition to helping determine the effectiveness of Pluvicto, Dr. Ulaner explains that molecular medicine works like a lock and a key. Every cancer cell has a protein on its surface that can be thought of as a lock. Molecular agents designed to bind specifically to those locks are the key. Infused with radiation, those keys can either help detect or destroy the cancer cells wherever they are in the body, leaving neighboring healthy cells unharmed.

“This is a relatively new field,” Ulaner said. “We are the only molecular imaging and therapy center in Orange County. We use molecular agents to help detect cancer and to treat cancer through radioactive molecules.”

For more information: https://www.hoag.org/

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