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June 14, 2024

The New Age of Cancer Care is Theranostics

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What do you think of when you hear the word “radioactive”? Some might think of nuclear power. Others may think of particles and science. Maybe your mind drifts to the catchy pop-rock song from 2012 that references the apocalypse.

The apocalypse aside, radioactivity isn’t all bad. In fact, an emerging field of medicine is harnessing radioactivity to find and treat previously undetectable and untreatable diseases. Yes, patients are injected with radioactive drugs, but the side effects are minimal. What’s more, the drugs have the potential to save lives. The field is called Theranostics.

What is Theranostics?

Theranostics uses radiopharmaceuticals to detect and destroy cancer and other diseases. It’s been around since the 1940s but has gained significant traction in recent years.

This precision medicine approach leverages unique markers found in or around disease cells. Radiopharmaceutical imaging agents attach to those specific markers and emit signals that are picked up by PET scans, revealing the disease’s location. Therapeutic agents attach to the markers and deliver focused radiation that kills disease at the molecular level. FDA-approved therapies are currently being used to treat metastatic prostate cancer and neuroendocrine cancer.

Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building, Grand Rapids, MI

One of the only comprehensive Theranostics centers in the world dedicated to this type of medicine is called BAMF Health.

BAMF Health Leads the Way in Theranostics

BAMF, which stands for Bold Advanced Medical Future, was founded in 2018 by Dr. Anthony Chang and started treating patients in July 2022. It is the first facility in the world built specifically for Theranostics.

“I left academia in 2016 to start this risky venture because I knew Theranostics had the potential to save a lot of lives, but it was only being done at such a small scale,” Dr. Chang explains. “I couldn’t accept that patients were dying while the technology to diagnose and treat them was in our hands. I founded BAMF Health to make these life-saving treatments accessible and affordable—now.”

Anthony Chang, PhD, BAMF Health Founder and CEO

Dr. Chang recruited some of the most experienced Theranostics experts from around the globe to join his mission. Dr. Harshad Kulkarni, BAMF Health’s Chief Medical Advisor, has nearly 20 years of Nuclear Medicine and Theranostic Oncology experience and has overseen more than 10,000 radiopharmaceutical therapies and Theranostic procedures.

“These non-invasive technologies offer a significant opportunity to advance diagnostics and treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cardiac diseases,” says Dr. Kulkarni. “This approach may also have extended applications for PTSD, depression, endometriosis, pain, and more.”

Harshad Kulkarni, MD, BAMF Health Chief Medical Advisor

Bringing Radiopharmaceutical Imaging and Therapy to All

Right now, patient access to radiopharmaceutical imaging and therapy is limited. Some hospital systems, academic medical centers, and independent offices offer these services, but at a limited scale. Leaders at BAMF Health believe their model must be replicated to image and treat the number of people across the country who are—and will be—eligible.

“We’ve cracked the code on scaling Theranostics,” reports Dr. Chang. “Our team established an economical and efficient way to put a radiopharmacy, Molecular Imaging Clinic, Molecular Therapy Clinic, and Clinical Trials Platform all in one facility. Now it’s our goal to deploy this platform across the country so every patient has access to these life-saving therapies.”

A Tidal Wave of Treatment Options is Coming

Hundreds of radiopharmaceutical therapies are in development for a multitude of diseases. Theranostic centers must not only be able to provide current treatments but also have the capacity to offer treatments to the hundreds of others that will follow.

“Big pharma companies like Novartis and Lilly are investing billions of dollars into developing radiopharmaceuticals and acquiring companies that do the same,” Dr. Chang explains. “As more and more drugs funnel into the pipeline, pharmaceutical companies will need ways to rapidly get them to market. That’s where we come in.”

BAMF Health Radiopharmacy

BAMF Health is partnering with dozens of pharmaceutical companies to launch clinical trials for these novel drugs. While clinical trials can take months to launch and years to complete, BAMF Health launches trials in weeks and maintains the highest degrees of quality and safety.

“The faster we complete clinical trials, the more FDA-approved options patients will have,” says Dr. Chang. “Many patients in our clinical trials have run out of options. These treatments can potentially extend their lives and significantly improve their quality of life, giving them more time with the ones they love.”

The New Age of Cancer Care Has Arrived

For decades, researchers and scientists have said Theranostics is the future of medicine. Many of those same people are still saying that today. But Theranostics is happening right now.

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