Telix Pharmaceuticals has established a collaboration agreement with a team of researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, or DKFZ) to develop an innovative image-guided surgery for men with prostate cancer.
Investigators from the DKFZ and Heidelberg University Clinic have been working on the development of a next-generation radiotracer — a radioactive compound that may be administered to patients to “light up” tumors in positron emission tomography (PET) scans. It is based on Telix’s TLX591-CDx (68Ga-PSMA-11), marketed in the U.S. under the brand name Illumet.
Besides emitting radiation required for PET, the new compound also contains a fluorescing agent (fluorophore) that is visible through optical imaging. For this reason, the compound may be simultaneously used as a standard radiotracer agent to image prostate cancer through PET, and as a fluorescent agent to guide surgeons during prostate surgery.
Image-guided fluorescence imaging is a standard feature of many modern systems. It is based on the use of automated surgical robots that are widely used across the globe during urologic surgeries. One example is the Firefly imaging system, part of the da Vinci surgical robotics system by Intuitive Surgical.
“The astonishing research of our colleagues at DKFZ and Heidelberg has tremendous potential in improving the quality and efficiency of using image-guided techniques for robotic surgery,” Christian Behrenbruch, CEO of Telix, said in a press release.
“To date, Telix has focused on using PSMA imaging in the post-prostatectomy [prostate removal] biochemical recurrence setting. This collaboration will explore how the combination of PET and image-guided surgery can be used to improve outcomes during prostatectomy, further expanding the impact of molecular imaging in the management of prostate cancer,” Behrenbruch added.
Under the terms of the agreement, Telix will work together with investigators from the DKFZ to carry out all necessary translational studies to analyze the effectiveness and safety of the new compound in a surgical setting. In addition, the agreement includes a fully negotiable, exclusive option to license the technology rights for commercial development.
“Our colleagues at Telix have made tremendous progress in commercializing PSMA-11 PET imaging, a technology that was originally developed here at DKFZ,” said Ann-Christin Baranski, principal investigator at DKFZ, scientist at the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, partner location Freiburg), and at the department of nuclear medicine (University Hospital Freiburg).
“To this end, we feel Telix is an appropriate commercial partner for this novel technology and we look forward to working with the Telix team to evaluate the impact of this technology in patients in the near future,” Baranski said.
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