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Goodwin and Aspyrian team to deliver cancer-killing drugs by infrared light

By Dan Stanton , 27-Mar-2014
Last updated on 28-Mar-2014 at 09:26 GMT

Goodwin and Aspyrian team to deliver cancer-killing drugs by IR light

ADC-makers could avoid using costly cytotoxics in antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) by using near‐infrared (NIR) light to activate targeted cell-killing payloads, says Goodwin who has team up with Aspyrian Therapeutics.

There has been a wealth of investment in antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technologies as companies look towards the next generation of cancer targeting drugs.

Such compounds consist of a disease-targeting antibody joined by linker technology to a highly potent small molecule ‘payload,’ but technology licensed from the National Cancer Institute by Aspyrian could reduce the cost and safety issues associated with such highly potent and cytotoxic payloads.

The Photo immunotherapy (PIT) ADC is an antibody chemically conjugated to a fluorescent dye which becomes activated locally through the application of an infra-red light, explained Manager of Business Development Robin McCallum at Goodwin Biotechnology – the contract manufacturing organisation selected by Aspyrian to develop and manufacture its candidate.

“With PIT technology, there is no need for the use of a cyclotron to generate the radio-isotope or a need to work with highly potent and cytotoxic payloads which normally requires licensing, exorbitant costs and potential safety concerns,” McCallum told in-pharmatechnologist.com.

IR Light

This is not the first time the use of light has been used to help deliver drugs. A ‘magic bullet’ antimicrobial drug to treat MRSA was investigated in 2009 by University College London , in which an antimicrobial agent was attached to an MRSA-binding peptide and activated by light with a specific wavelength.

Furthermore, "infrared light has been used to create a localised heating effect together with gold nanoparticles (which effectively absorb the light)," Professor Colin McCoy from Queen's University Belfast told this publication.

"If the nanoparticles are targetted to a tumour, then application of the infrared light can induce localised hyperthermia, which causes the cancer cells to die," he continued. "Attaching a toxin payload is an interesting development, and promising too, as it offers the potential for precise, localised delivery with minimal side effects, which is a current issue with many cancer treatments."

Aspyrian’s candidate, intended for head and neck cancers, is expected to enter Phase I clinical trials by the end of the year and Goodwin has been selected for the technology transfer, development, scale-up and cGMP manufacturing of the ADC from its Fort Lauderdale, Florida facility. Financial details of the partnership have not been revealed.

According to McCallum Goodwin was selected due to its “experience working with similar fluorescent dyes and overall experience with ADCs for many types of ligands (both small and large molecules) during the past 12 years,” adding “flexibility and responsiveness” were also factors, as was the ability to handle the entire project at its facility.

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