Fluorescent tumours in the clinic


Munich/Groningen/Penzberg – For ten years, the application of image-guided surgery with tumour-specific fluorescent dyes has been limited to animal studies, because no one could predict safety or bio­distribution of such targeted dyes in patients. Now for the first time, a Dutch-German team of researchers has found a way to convince regulatory authorities that their fluorochromes are safe and can be tested on human subjects. In November, the team got the go-ahead for a Phase I study in breast cancer patients with the fluorochrome IR dye 800 CW (LI-COR Bioscience) coupled to the antibody drug Avastin (Roche).
“Our advantage is that we already have a lot of clinical data about the safety and biodistribution of the cancer therapeutic Avastin, which binds to VEGF produced by cancer cells,” said Werner Scheuer from Pharma Research & Early Development at Roche (Penzberg), who developed the anti­body-flurochrome conjugates in cooperation with Vasilis Ntziachristos (TU Munich) and Go van Dam (Medical College Groningen). In the November issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine (52(11): 1778-1785), the authors provided evidence that their cancer imaging agent behaves in animals as Avastin does in humans. For proving safety in humans, they will use microdoses of the dye – 100 times lower than the lowest dose in which the cancer drug shows an effect. “We want to statistically prove that breast cancer patients benefit from image-guided surgery with targeted fluorochromes,” explains Ntziachristos. He has developed a camera system that can identify the tumour margins with seven times better resolution than a surgeon can with the naked eye. A pipeline of antibody-fluorochrome conjugates is already being tested in animals.



Paris/Gosselies – Biotech cluster Lyonbiopôle in the Rhône-Alpes region and Biowin, which is based in the French-speaking part of Belgium, have laid the foundations for a transborder cluster. “From the outset, we wanted to adopt...



Amsterdam – Dutch specialty pharmaceutical company Spe­Pharm (Amsterdam) has secured funds worth €26m after entering into a €10m revenue interest acquisition financing agreement with Paul Capital Healthcare. The cash injection...



Ghent – BASF Plant Science and the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) have signed a major cooperation agreement on research into plant genetic mechanisms to increase yield and improve tolerance to environmental stress...



Brussels – The 21 research groups and five SMEs that make up the new EU-funded LipidomicNet project have launched a knowledge platform on Wikipedia ( The novel resource, which will be regularly updated by...



Luxembourg – The government of Luxembourg has tapped three prominent US biomedical science organisations to accelerate the country’s pace of innovation in the biosciences by developing a biobank, to conduct two major projects to...



Ghent – Belgian researchers under Freddy Haesebrouck have for the first time cultured the animal pathogen Helicobacter suis, which causes deadly stomach ulcers in pigs. Because the new species is related to the human pathogen...



Professor Erik De Clercq (University of Leuven, Belgium) has received the European Inventor of the Year 2008 award. De Clercq pioneered the use of nucleotide analogues to treat viral infections causing herpes, hepatitis B and...



In a Phase III study, Pharming Group N.V.’s (Leiden) recombinant human C1 inhibitor Rhucin® met the primary and secondary endpoints of safety and efficacy as acute treatment for hereditary angioedema (HAE). Patients who received...



Amsterdam – In order to enhance the valorisation of academic results, the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI) is now supporting the foundation of new companies. Teams of researchers and entrepreneurs from all of the NGI’s...



Ghent – Pronota NV, a biomarker specialist firm that is based in Belgium, has launched its protein biomarker verification platform MASSterclass™. Pronota says that the novel antibody-free system will help to reduce the cost and...

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