Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) therapy 101

Consistently ranked among the top centers in the country for pediatric cancer care, Texas Children’s Cancer Center offers the most advanced medical treatments and care possible for children with cancer. 

Neuroblastoma, one of the most common solid tumors in children, is a type of cancer that forms in primitive developing nerve cells. Each year approximately 700 children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma in the United States. Our program, one of the top referral centers in the country for treating neuroblastoma, focuses on individualized treatment for each of our patients. Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) therapy can be a promising treatment option for some children with high-risk neuroblastoma. 

What is MIBG?

MIBG is a compound that can be combined with radioactive iodine, I-131, to deliver targeted radiation therapy through an IV infusion. It can also be combined with radioactiveiodine-123, and used in nuclear medicine studies to determine the location and extent of the tumor.

When combined with I-131, the MIBG not only locates the tumor it also kills tumor cells by emitting radiation. The radiation damage to normal tissues is minimized because the MIBG preferentially accumulates in tumor cells and is not absorbed by normal cells. This therapy is more effective, less painful and better tolerated than some other types of therapy for neuroblastoma.

What is the MIBG suite?

In keeping with our mission to provide personalized, comprehensive services, as well as family-centered care for every patient, I-131 MIBG treatment is offered to patients in a two-room suite that allows a parent to stay in close proximity to their child throughout the MIBG treatment, which is approximately 5 days. The patient room was specifically built for treating children receiving I-131 MIBG therapy. The parent room, which is adjacent to the child’s room, is fully equipped with a bed, a couch and a full private bathroom. A viewing window separates the two rooms which have both an intercom system and iPads to facilitate communication. Parents may also enter their child’s room with protective clothing when needed. 

Texas Children’s has the only pediatric MIBG suite in Houston, making it possible for our patients to receive all of their care locally.

Post by:

Jennifer Haunani Foster, MD, MPH

Dr. Jennifer Foster is Co-Director of the Neuroblastoma Program for the Cancer Center at Texas Children’s Hospital. In 2013, she completed her fellowship training in pediatric hematology-oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

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