Telix In-Licences Novel Tumour Microenvironment PET Tracer

Melbourne (Australia) and Liège (Belgium) – 9 September 2021. Telix announces an exclusive licence agreement for a novel PET radiotracer originating from the Université catholique de Louvain.

Telix is pleased to announce that it has entered into an exclusive licence agreement for a novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer that originates from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain).

The investigational-stage PET radiotracer, known as [18F]-3-fluoro-2-hydroxypropionate or [18F]-FLac, has demonstrated promise for imaging lactate metabolism in oxygenated tumours and tumour microenvironment (TME). This is based on the observation that many types of human tumours consume lactate as a respiratory fuel.

The most widely used commercial PET tracer today is 2-deoxy-2-[18F]-fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]-FDG), a radiolabeled glucose molecule that is used in ~90% of scans. Imaging with [18F]-FDG PET is used to determine sites of abnormal glucose metabolism and can characterise and localise many tumour types. However, [18F]-FDG PET relies on the cancer cells having a high metabolism and uptake of glucose, which means that [18F]-FDG cannot discriminate those tumours and TMEs that are well supplied with oxygen or not.

Professor Pierre Sonveaux and his team at UCLouvain have demonstrated that many types of cancer cells cultured under oxygenated conditions can use lactate as a respiratory fuel, and have developed an [18F]-labelled lactate analogue ([18F]-FLac) that enables imaging of lactate metabolism in oxygenated tumour regions. Telix will collaborate with Professor Sonveaux’s team to explore whether [18F]-FLac may offer an alternative diagnostic modality, where glucose metabolism is reduced and [18F]-FDG is not performing, by imaging lactate transport mechanisms. [18F]-FLac could act as an adjunct to [18F]-FDG imaging and help to identify cancers that are more aggressive in nature and less responsive to current treatments, particularly immuno-oncology therapeutics.

Pierre Sonveaux, Professor at UCLouvain and Research Director at the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FRNS) stated, “Our early research into the tumour microenvironment has shown that [18F]-FLac holds great promise as a novel PET tracer for detection of tumours that are difficult to image with [18F]-FDG. Being able to reliably detect these tumours and to take into consideration their metabolic activities holds great clinical significance for the management of many different cancers. We are also very pleased that the owner of the patent has decided that his returns from the licence fee will be given to the charitable institutions. We look forward to working with Telix to continue the development of [18F]-FLac and its potential role in improving outcomes for cancer patients”.

Telix Chief Scientist, Dr. Michael Wheatcroft added, “This is a very exciting and novel tumour tracer with the potential to complement the ‘universal’ PET agent [18F]-FDG to improve the detection of all tumours. Importantly, there are also synergies of this imaging agent with Telix’s carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9) program and overall strategy to use our understanding of tumour microenvironment to target difficult-to-treat hypoxic tumours and make them more susceptible to treatment. Ultimately our aim with [18F]-FLac is to empower oncologists with more information; to identify disease that they wouldn’t otherwise have seen with solid or fibrotic tumours, and steer Telix’s tumour microenvironment (TME) program into new indications. We are delighted that the inventor, Professor Sonveaux will continue to be personally involved in this research as well as an advisor for Telix’s broader TME program.”

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