Raymond M Reilly, PhD

  • Novel Radiopharmaceuticals for Diagnostic Imaging or Targeted Radiotherapy of Cancer
    One of our major areas of research at the present time is targeted Auger electron radiotherapy of breast cancer and other malignancies.

    Auger electrons are very low energy electrons which are emitted by radionuclides which decay by electron capture (eg. 111In). The ultrashort, subcellular range of Auger electrons restricts the radiotoxicity of Auger electron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals only towards cancer cells which specifically internalize and translocate the radiopharmaceuticals to the cell nucleus.
  • EGF and breast cancer
    We have discovered that epidermal growth factor (EGF) can be used as a specific targeting vehicle to insert 111In into the cytoplasm and nucleus of human breast cancer cells expressing EGF receptors (EGFR). The radiopharmaceutical is highly and selectively radiotoxic to breast cancer cells which overexpress EGFR.

    Our laboratory is currently developing this new radiopharmaceutical as a treatment for hormone-resistant, poor prognosis breast cancers in which EGFR are overexpressed in the majority of cases. We are also exploring the potential for targeted Auger electron radiotherapy of malignant glioblastomas using a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) recombinant fusion protein and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) using an internalizing anti-CD33 monoclonal antibody.
  • Radioguided surgery in breast cancer
    In other research, we are developing novel radiopharmaceuticals for radioguided surgery of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast (DCIS). DCIS is a very early stage of breast cancer in which malignant cells remain confined by the ducts of the breast. DCIS is treated by surgery combined with local radiation, but the incidence of recurrence is high due to the difficulty in defining the surgical margins.

    Our laboratory is developing novel radiopharmaceuticals which could be administered to patients prior to surgery and which localize specifically in breast cancer cells. At operation, the surgeon would use a gamma-detecting probe to survey the surgical field and more clearly delineate the margins for resection. It is hoped that this project will lead to improved surgical management of DCIS and decrease the incidence of recurrence.
  • Imaging treatment response in breast cancer
    We are also studying the potential for molecular imaging of the early response to treatment in breast cancer using novel radiopharmaceuticals targeted towards the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21WAF-1/CIP-1 or biochemical processes such as glucose and amino acid utilization. p21WAF-1/CIP-1 is induced following exposure of breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents and radiation and is responsible for cell cycle arrest and/or initiation of apoptosis.

    Non-invasive imaging of p21WAF-1/CIP-1 gene expression in vivo in breast cancer may provide a means of predicting which treatments are the most effective for individual patients. Radiopharmaceuticals are being designed to target p21WAF-1/CIP-1 at the mRNA or protein levels using antisense based agents or internalizing monoclonal antibodies respectively. Radiopharmaceutical probes of glucose utilization (18FDG) and amino acid metabolism (123I-iodotyrosine) are also being investigated as tools for determining the early response to treatment in breast cancer.
EJNMMI Radiopharm Chem. 2019 Oct 11;4(1):27
Ku A, Facca VJ, Cai Z, Reilly RM
Haematologica. 2018 Jul 05;:
Williams BA, Wang XH, Leyton JV, Maghera S, Deif B, Reilly RM, Minden MD, Keating A
Phys Med Biol. 2017 Oct 27;62(22):8581-8599
Lai P, Cai Z, Pignol JP, Lechtman E, Mashouf S, Lu Y, Winnik MA, Jaffray DA, Reilly RM



Associate Dean, Research, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto