Clarity Pharmaceuticals’ drug is a game changer


Clarity Pharmaceuticals, an ATP Innovations portfolio company, recently completed a clinical trial using SARTATE, a radioactive drug that seeks out and kills tumour cells by radiation delivered inside the body. The treatment now is a step closer to becoming a standard treatment after extremely positive first in-human trial results. SARTATE is paving the way for cancer therapy that may spare brain damage in children needing radiation to treat brain tumours.

Lead researcher and director of cancer imaging at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Professor Rod Hicks, said more than 1000 adults with neuroendocrine tumours had been treated with the peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) in the past 20 years. In PRRT, a protein and radioactive material is injected into the patient’s bloodstream.

This radiopeptide binds to tumour cells, which can be seen in scans. The technology can be used as treatment by upping the radiation to hit cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy tissue.

Although doctors are good at predicting how much radiation the tumours will get, until now they have not been able to precisely assess the collateral damage to nearby ­organs, particularly the kidneys, that attract these radio­active peptides.

But the new SARTATE therapy, which was initially ­developed at the University of Melbourne, uses copper to bind to cancer cells for more than 24 hours after the ­infusion, compared to present traces that lose their radio­activity in as little as an hour.

In the study of 10 adult neuroendocrine tumour patients, researchers were able to get clearer images of tumour cells hiding in the liver.

“This is a game changer. We’re turning the paradigm around so treatment becomes much more prospective and predictive, rather than retrospective,” Prof Hicks said.

The findings were presented last night at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s annual meeting in San Diego.

Prof Hicks said because the therapy delivered radiation to 1-2mm of tissue, they would now look to trial it for ­children with medulloblast­oma brain tumours.

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