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Contrast Media & Molecular Imaging
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 2709547, 14 pages
Review Article

CD44v6-Targeted Imaging of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Antibody-Based Approaches

1Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
2Division of Protein Technology, School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Correspondence should be addressed to Diana Spiegelberg and Johan Nilvebrant

Received 24 February 2017; Revised 23 April 2017; Accepted 21 May 2017; Published 20 June 2017

Academic Editor: Shasha Li

Copyright © 2017 Diana Spiegelberg and Johan Nilvebrant. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a common and severe cancer with low survival rate in advanced stages. Noninvasive imaging of prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers could provide valuable information for planning and monitoring of the different therapy options. Thus, there is a major interest in development of new tracers towards cancer-specific molecular targets to improve diagnostic imaging and treatment. CD44v6, an oncogenic variant of the cell surface molecule CD44, is a promising molecular target since it exhibits a unique expression pattern in HNSCC and is associated with drug- and radio-resistance. In this review we summarize results from preclinical and clinical investigations of radiolabeled anti-CD44v6 antibody-based tracers: full-length antibodies, Fab, F(ab′)2 fragments, and scFvs with particular focus on the engineering of various antibody formats and choice of radiolabel for the use as molecular imaging agents in HNSCC. We conclude that the current evidence points to CD44v6 imaging being a promising approach for providing more specific and sensitive diagnostic tools, leading to customized treatment decisions and functional diagnosis. Improved imaging tools hold promise to enable more effective treatment for head and neck cancer patients.