Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7772-7791. doi:10.7150/thno.34941 This issue


Theranostics in immuno-oncology using nanobody derivatives

Quentin Lecocq1, Yannick De Vlaeminck1, Heleen Hanssens2, Matthias D'Huyvetter2, Geert Raes3,4, Cleo Goyvaerts1, Marleen Keyaerts2,5, Nick Devoogdt2✉, Karine Breckpot1✉

1. Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Therapy (LMCT), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Laarbeeklaan 103, B-1090 Brussels
2. In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Laboratory (ICMI), VUB, Laarbeeklaan 103, B-1090 Brussels
3. Unit of Cellular and Molecular Immunology (CMIM), VUB, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels
4. Myeloid Cell Immunology Lab, VIB Inflammation Research Center, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
5. Nuclear Medicine Department, UZ Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, B-1090 Brussels.
* These authors share senior authorship

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Lecocq Q, De Vlaeminck Y, Hanssens H, D'Huyvetter M, Raes G, Goyvaerts C, Keyaerts M, Devoogdt N, Breckpot K. Theranostics in immuno-oncology using nanobody derivatives. Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7772-7791. doi:10.7150/thno.34941. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Targeted therapy and immunotherapy have become mainstream in cancer treatment. However, only patient subsets benefit from these expensive therapies, and often responses are short‐lived or coincide with side effects. A growing modality in precision oncology is the development of theranostics, as this enables patient selection, treatment and monitoring. In this approach, labeled compounds and an imaging technology are used to diagnose patients and select the best treatment option, whereas for therapy, related compounds are used to target cancer cells or the tumor stroma. In this context, nanobodies and nanobody-directed therapeutics have gained interest. This interest stems from their high antigen specificity, small size, ease of labeling and engineering, allowing specific imaging and design of therapies targeting antigens on tumor cells, immune cells as well as proteins in the tumor environment. This review provides a comprehensive overview on the state-of-the-art regarding the use of nanobodies as theranostics, and their importance in the emerging field of personalized medicine.

Keywords: single domain antibody, nanobody, cancer, molecular imaging, immunotherapy