Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC), endemic in Southeast Asia, lacks effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Even in high-income countries the 5-year survival rate for stage IV NPC is less than 40%. Here we report high somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) expression in multiple clinical cohorts comprising 402 primary, locally recurrent and metastatic NPCs. We show that SSTR2 expression is induced by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) via the NF-kappaB pathway. Using cell-based and preclinical rodent models, we demonstrate the therapeutic potential of SSTR2 targeting using a cytotoxic drug conjugate, PEN-221, which is found to be superior to FDA-approved SSTR2-binding cytostatic agents. Furthermore, we reveal significant correlation of SSTR expression with increased rates of survival and report in vivo uptake of the SSTR2-binding 68Ga-DOTA-peptide radioconjugate in PET-CT scanning in a clinical trial of NPC patients (NCT03670342). These findings reveal a key role in EBV-associated NPC for SSTR2 in infection, imaging, targeted therapy and survival.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-20308-8
View details for PubMedID 33402692