Theragnostics has announced a licence agreement with AstraZeneca, for intellectual property that enables the company’s “freedom to operate globally in the diagnostic field of certain selected radionuclide-labelled PARPi”.

The deal strengthens Theragnostics’ IP state and allows the company to accelerate the development of its rPARPi therapy and diagnostic portfolio.

The company, which is developing molecular radiotherapy for imaging and treating a broad range of cancers, has a platform which enables the development of molecular radiotherapy based on a PARPi for imaging and treating cancer.

It modifies a PARPi drug molecule with a radioactive atom to create a radionuclide PARPi (rPARPi), which can either be used to image PARP in a cancer patient for diagnostic use or the radioactive isotope can be used to deliver a therapeutic dose of radiation into tumour cells, which offers the potential to molecularly target the radiation in order to hit and kill tumour cells whilst avoiding damage to healthy cells and associated side effects.

Currently, there are at least four approved conventional pharmaceutical PARPi on the market with new and expanded indications being approved in several markets in recent months.

Gareth Smith, chief operating officer of Theragnostics, said that the company believes “a radionuclide PARPi therapy will work independently of DNA mutations associated with heightened PARPi activity, such as BRCA1/BRCA2 and will avoid development of treatment resistance. Therefore, the number of patients benefiting from PARPi therapy could significantly expand.”

PARP inhibitors are a novel class of oncology drugs that block an enzyme, Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase, that cancer cells use in response to DNA damage, both endogenous and as caused by treatments such as chemotherapy.