MD Anderson, Radiopharm Theranostics Join Forces on Therapeutic Radiopharmaceuticals

A joint venture by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Radiopharm Theranostics aims to develop novel radiopharmaceutical therapeutic products for cancer.

Radiopharm Ventures brings together MD Anderson’s innovative and proprietary technologies in antigen discovery and molecular imaging with Radiopharm’s expertise in developing radiopharmaceutical products. The joint venture will focus initially on developing at least four therapeutic products based on MD Anderson intellectual property.

“Radiopharmaceuticals continue to be rapidly developed as a highly promising therapeutic frontier in oncology,” said Riccardo Canevari, chief executive officer at Radiopharm. “We are pleased to have this opportunity to collaborate with MD Anderson and its tremendous scientists as we work to make significant in-roads into cancer therapy for the benefit of patients.”

Radiopharmaceuticals are designed to deliver small doses of radiation to specifically targeted cells for either therapeutic or diagnostic purposes. Effective cancer radiopharmaceuticals require tumor-specific targets not found in healthy tissue. MD Anderson researchers have established novel platforms to discover and validate tumor specific antigens, offering promising candidates for the development of new radiopharmaceuticals. 

The first potential therapeutic candidate is a humanized immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody against the tumor-specific antigen B7-H3, also known as CD276, which is highly expressed in several common tumors but not in healthy cells. The antibody was developed in the laboratory of David Piwnica-Worms, MD, PhD, chair of Cancer Systems Imaging at MD Anderson. Pre-clinical studies suggest the candidate radiotherapeutic antibody is effective in eliminating resistant colorectal cancers in laboratory models.

“Based on our early pre-clinical data, B7-H3 represents a promising radiotherapeutic target, and we look forward to having the opportunity to work with the team at Radiopharm with the goal of advancing our therapeutic candidate toward future clinical studies,” Dr Piwnica-Worms said.

In addition, the work of Samir Hanash, MD, PhD, professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention at

MD Anderson, has resulted in extensive characterization of the cancer surfaceome — the catalogue of proteins found specifically on the surface of cancer cells across cancer types — resulting in novel targets with cancer-restricted expression. Radiopharm Ventures has an opportunity to select additional targets from this dataset and plans to prioritize selection based on unmet needs in oncology. 

“The cancer surfaceome holds a wealth of information about antigens restricted to cancer,” Dr Hanash said. “Mining the data, generated at the petabyte level, has uncovered many compelling targets that have not previously been explored, and we are pleased for the opportunity to collaborate with Radiopharm in developing innovative new treatment options for some targets.”

Once targets have been selected, Radiopharm will collaborate with Drs Hanash and Piwnica-Worms at MD Anderson to advance preclinical development of potential therapeutic candidates.

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