A nanobody with its origins in the camel family, that is now being used to fight cancer, is at the centre of two agreements inked by Melbourne-based company Radiopharm Theranostics. One deal is a collaboration agreement with US-based Lantheus – a US$5 billion NASDAQ-listed radiopharmaceutical company. The other is with UK company biotech NanoMab and gives Radiopharm important intellectual property rights in a cancer-fighting product.
A nanobody with its origins in the camel family that is now being used to fight cancer is at the centre of two agreements inked by Melbourne-based company Radiopharm Theranostics.
One is a collaboration agreement between Radiopharm and US-based Lantheus – a US$5 billion NASDAQ-listed radiopharmaceutical company.
It’s a strategically important collaboration for Radiopharm and one that neatly ties in Lantheus and its own areas of expertise.
Lantheus specialises in innovative imaging of cancers, while Radiopharm’s interest lies in using radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat cancers.
The agreement focuses on the development and use of NM-01 – a nanobody made from genetically engineered single domain antibodies derived from the camelid family
NM-01 can be labelled with radioisotopes to image and treat different tumour types.
Lantheus holds exclusive imaging rights to NM-01 that cover the world – apart from China. It also recently began a phase 2 clinical trial of NM-01 to evaluate the expression of PD-L1 in lung cancer patients.
PD-L1 is a biomarker currently generating great interest in medical research fields because it may provide information about whether a patient would benefit from immunotherapy treatments for lung cancer.
As part of the collaboration agreement, Lantheus will supply Radiopharm with the diagnostic product candidate of NM-01 for use in its own therapeutic clinical trials.
Radiopharm intends to run a phase 1 lung cancer trial, using its proprietary nanobodies specifically geared towards the PD-L1 expression, in the near term. It will be the company’s first lung cancer trial in Australia.
Nanobodies, also known as single-domain antibodies, are being widely research for a variety of pharmaceutical applications, including radiopharmaceuticals.
Unlike chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells as well as cancer cells, the use of radiopharmaceuticals is very precise.
Low-energy radioactive molecules or isotopes are attached to an antibody or peptide and light up the cancer whilst high-energy radioactive isotopes target and basically fry the cancer cells.
Radiopharm Theranostics Executive Chairman, Paul Hopper said: “This is a whole new area of treating cancer patients and it’s a great endorsement to have a major leader like Lantheus wanting to collaborate with us.”
Radiopharm has also unveiled a deal with UK-based biotech NanoMab.
NanoMab is a private company involved in radiopharmaceuticals to fight cancers. It moved its headquarters from China to London in 2020.
One of its co-founders, in 2016, was Dr Hong Hoi Ting, a nuclear medical expert formerly of Oxford University who invented the radiopharmaceutical platform called Nano-mAbs that Radiopharm uses.
The new deal between the two companies allows Radiopharm to acquire the imaging rights of NM-01 for the strategic and large Chinese market – the only market that Lantheus does not have – and the IP rights for any therapeutic use.
As part of its broad collaboration with NanoMab, Radiopharm’s acquisition of the IP for PD-L1 will come at no cost for Radiopharm Theranostics.
Radiopharm has a long pipeline of products, tackling various cancers, at various stages of pre-clinical and clinical trials.
Management says the expenditure required under the collaboration agreement with Lantheus is not considered financially material and can be funded from existing cash reserves.
At the end of the last quarter, Radiopharm had $26.98 million in cash and cash equivalents.
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