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Posted: June 8, 2009
Aposense Technology for Molecular Imaging of Apoptosis to Be Used by GlaxoSmithKline in Experimental Oncology Studies
(Nanowerk News) Aposense Ltd., a leading developer of agents targeting apoptosis (programmed cell death) for molecular imaging and therapy, today announced a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to evaluate the potential of Aposense's PET tracer ML-10 in monitoring drug activity in clinical studies of cancer therapies. The project is intended to assess the contribution of ML-10 in accelerating clinical development of cancer therapies.
"We are pleased to be working with GSK and view this collaboration as another important step towards making molecular imaging of apoptosis available to noninvasively monitor and potentially personalize anti-cancer therapy," said Yoram Ashery, CEO of Aposense. "Imaging drug activity in patients and early assessment of its biological effect may help accelerate the development of cancer therapies and reduce development costs."
The increase in costs of developing a new oncology drug today, which are estimated at US$1.7 billion or more, has been driven mainly by the rising cost of clinical trials and high-attrition rates between phase I trials and approval. Improving the efficiency of this long and expensive process is inhibited in-part by the lag-time for assessing drug effect with current methods, and the lack of biological information on pharmacological activity of new agents in vivo.
Molecular imaging has recently been recognized as a potential answer to this challenge, due to its ability to non-invasively detect and visualize biological processes in vivo. The Aposense ML-10 probe has great promise for directly addressing these challenges by imaging apoptosis (programmed cell death), a biological process intrinsic to the mechanism of many anti-cancer therapies.
The initial term of the nonexclusive collaboration is for two years and can be extended on certain conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Apoptosis is a genetically controlled program of cell death, inherent in any nucleated cell in the body and therefore often referred to also as "cell suicide." Upon activation, the apoptotic program executes a well-characterized sequence of events by which the cell undergoes fragmentation and elimination by macrophages, without damaging the surrounding tissue. Apoptosis is a universal process of cell death and it plays a role in most medical disorders, making it one of the important processes of cell biology. For example, apoptosis has important roles in oncology, both in the process of tumor growth, as well as in treatment with most therapies which aim to induce death in cancer cells. Targeting cells undergoing apoptosis, for imaging or delivering therapy, can therefore have broad clinical applications.
About Molecular Imaging
Molecular imaging is an emerging field which aims to visualize non-invasively biological processes in vivo. The ability to image disease-related biological processes may allow physicians to detect disease early, characterize the disease better and to personalize treatment by real-time monitoring of therapeutic effect. Molecular imaging depends on special molecules (probes) that can selectively target these biological processes, while carrying an imaging moiety for visualization, such as 18F or other positron emitting radio-isotopes that can be visualized by PET.
Aposense Ltd. is a molecular imaging and drug development company, leading the translation of the science of apoptosis (programmed cell death) into clinical practice. Aposense introduces novel imaging and therapeutic agents based on rationally designed, nano-mechanisms for selective targeting of cells undergoing apoptosis. Aposense technology is based on a new, patented class of small molecular probes that selectively identify and accumulate within apoptotic (dying) cells in vivo. Apoptosis plays a role in many disease areas, including oncology, neurology and cardiology. Aposense probes for Molecular Imaging enables real-time visualization of the biological activity of disease, its onset, change in course and response to therapy, and to personalize treatment for the individual patient in cancer and other diseases. Therapeutic applications of Aposense technology in pre-clinical development include targeted anticancer therapy by using apoptotic cells in tumors as targets for specific delivery and activation of cytotoxic agents in the tumor.