AZEDRA is the first approved therapy for pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma

AZEDRA® (iobenguane I 131) is a prescription medicine used to treat adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older with cancers known as pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma that typically express the norepinephrine transporter (a protein that carries norepinephrine into the tumor cells), and who require systemic anticancer therapy.

  • Iobenguane is a chemical that mimics norepinephrine. It may be used to diagnose, image, or treat tumor cells that take up norepinephrine.

The language used to talk about pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment can be confusing. Find definitions for words in our Glossary and answers to common questions in our Frequently Asked Questions.

AZEDRA is a targeted systemic radiation therapy. What does that mean?

  • AZEDRA is targeted because it only affects certain cells inside the body (such as pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma tumor cells) that have a specific target, called the norepinephrine transporter.
  • AZEDRA is systemic because it treats the whole body, not just one body part. It is carried inside the body to reach tumors wherever they are.
  • AZEDRA is a radiation therapy because it uses radiation to treat tumors.

Understanding radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells and stop or reverse the growth of tumors. Radiation can be delivered in two ways:

AZEDRA targeted systemic radiation therapy is delivered inside the body. AZEDRA targeted systemic radiation therapy is delivered inside the body.

Because AZEDRA is a systemic radiation therapy, radiation can be delivered directly to the tumor cells. From there, the radiation from AZEDRA can travel only about two and a half millimeters—less than the thickness of two pennies.

AZEDRA targets pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma

AZEDRA is a targeted systemic radiation therapy made of two key parts

1. Targeting component

The targeting component is responsible for locating specific cells in the body.

The targeting component in AZEDRA is MIBG, a molecule similar to norepinephrine, which binds to the norepinephrine transporter. This transporter is found on the surface of most pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma tumor cells, as well as other cells in the body. Tumors that actively absorb MIBG are referred to as “MIBG avid.

AZEDRA targeted systemic radiation therapy is made of a targeting component and a treatment component. AZEDRA targeted systemic radiation therapy is made of a targeting component and a treatment component.

2. Treatment component

The treatment component delivers radiation to destroy cancer cells.

The treatment component of AZEDRA is an atom called iodine 131 (I-131), which has been used in the treatment of thyroid and other cancers for many decades.