Rockland Immunochemicals Inc. has announced that it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH) to develop nanoprobes for in vivo imaging of cancer cells and tumors that express one of the three important cancer therapeutic targets: EGFR, Her2 and Mesothelin.
This project is a joint collaboration between Rockland and Abzyme Therapeutics with in vivo imaging consultants from Yale University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Medical imaging is a key component in the clinical management of cancer patients. Cancer imaging agents are used in conjunction with medical imaging equipment and, by highlighting the contrast between normal and malignant tissues, allow the collection of information on cancer presence and progression.
Developing novel imaging agents that can be used for imaging and targeted radiotherapy of cancer would greatly enhance the efficacy of the cancer patient management and help usher in a new era of personalized cancer therapy.
According to market research firm Markets and Markets, the global diagnostic imaging market, which stood at $20.7 billion in 2010, is expected to swell to $26.6 billion by 2016. This expected rise is attributed to an aging population, increasing awareness about preventive care, and advancements in the field.
In Phase 1, Rockland and Abzyme Therapeutics will develop, label, and characterize high-affinity single domain antibodies (sdAbs) against EGFR, Her2 and Mesothelin.
Under the terms of this grant, Abzyme Therapeutics will develop single domain antibodies and Rockland will be responsible for bioconjugation and in vivo characterization.
“Despite significant scientific progress, very few cancer imaging agents are available in the clinic,” commented Carl A Ascoli, PhD, Laboratory Director at Rockland Immunochemicals. “The size, ease of manufacture, and condition-resistant nature of sdAbs make them the best choice as capture molecules. We expect that our SdAb imaging agents will have superiority over other agents designed for in vivo and in situ biodetection and diagnosis.”
“In these times of shrinking government investment in research, this SBIR grant validates Rockland’s business model of collaboration with leading academic institutions to aggregate, develop and commercialize technologies that will ultimately benefit humanity,” continued Jim Fendrick, President and CEO of Rockland Immunochemicals. “This research is in line with the company’s expertise in antibodies and antibody based tools. We are confident that this collaboration will generate significant innovation and that the results will have great scientific and commercial applications.”
In the planned Phase II portion of this project, the key antibodies will be radionuclide labeled and characterized using PET scanners in collaboration with Yale University and University of Pittsburg.
Radionuclide labeled antibodies specific to cancer cells can be used not only as in vivo imaging agents but also for targeted cancer therapy.