Preclinical development and characterisation of 99mTc-NM-01 for SPECT/CT imaging of human PD-L1

N.C.L. Wong, Y.N. Cai, L.K. Meszaros, H.J. Biersack, G.J.R. Cook, H.H. Ting, F.M. Mottaghy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The level of expression of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) is a predictive biomarker for cancer immunotherapy, however, its detection remains challenging due to tumour heterogeneity and the influence from the binding of therapeutic agents. We recently developed [99mTc]-NM-01 as a companion diagnostic imaging agent for non-invasive molecular imaging of PD-L1 by single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The aim of the study was to evaluate the [99mTc] radiolabelling of GMP graded NM-01 and its pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and toxicology. NM-01 bound specifically to human PD-L1 (Kd=0.8 nM) and did not interfere with the binding of the anti-PD-L1 antibody atezolizumab. NM-01 can bind various PD-L1-positive cancer cell lines and only interact with PD-L1 expressed on the cell surface. In SPECT/CT imaging, high [99mTc]-NM-01 accumulation was observed in the HCC827 mouse xenografted tumour model (30-min: 1.50 ± 0.27 %ID/g; 90-min: 1.23 ± 0.18 %ID/g), demonstrated a predominantly renal elimination (high uptake in bladder and kidney), while activity in the blood pool and other major organs remained low. The tumour-to-muscle and tumour-to-blood ratios were comparable with/without atezolizumab (P<0.04) but were significantly lowered when co-injected with excess NM-01 (P=0.04 and P=0.01, respectively.) The blood clearance of [99mTc]-NM-01 is bi-phasic; consisting of an initial fast washout phase with half-life of 2.1 min and a slower clearance phase with half-life of 25.4 min. In an intravenous extended single-dose toxicity study, no treatment-related changes were observed and the maximum tolerated dose of [99mTc]-NM-01 was 2.58 mg/kg. [99mTc]-NM-01 has suitable properties as a potential candidate for SPECT/CT imaging of PD-L1 assessment in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • PD-L1
  • radiolabelling
  • single domain antibody
  • SPECT/CT imaging
  • tracer
  • CELL


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