A Targeted Approach to Fighting Cancer

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Heather Hennkens says the goal is to create a more efficient, fully functional pipeline for rad

In the near future, a prostate cancer patient in Missouri may be injected with a radioisotope that can help imaging scanners accurately determine the precise location of a tumor. That diagnostic imagery could also help determine the targeting ability and exact therapeutic dose necessary to destroy the cancer cells without harming other tissues or organs in the body. A physician could then deliver to that patient a therapeutic radioisotope that is toxic to the cancer cells, without all of the physical side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy. This is the essence of precision medicine, and it’s at the heart of the University of Missouri system’s NextGen Precision Health Initiative.

In August, system President Mun Choi announced 20 innovative research projects that will receive more than $20 million in funding from the UM System and its four universities. One of the projects was proposed by Professor Tim Glass, chair of the MU Department of Chemistry, to fund radiopharmaceutical research across campus.