A new collaboration between University College London (UCL) and PhotoBiotics, a targeted oncology company spun out from Imperial College London in the UK, is looking to develop a multifunctional agent for use in both the diagnosis and treatment of gastric cancer.
A £175,000 award from the Technology Strategy Board’s Biomedical Catalyst scheme will support a study combining PhotoBiotics’ photodynamic drug technology with protein-conjugation work conducted by researchers from UCL’s Department of Chemistry.
The partnership will also draw on the antibody and preclinical-evaluation expertise of UCL’s National Medical Laser Centre (NMLC).
The aim is to generate and evaluate a multi-functional agent that can both help to detect gastric cancer at the initial diagnosis stage, and subsequently be used to treat the lesion through photosensitiser drug activation.
The strategy is “to enhance the efficacy of minimally invasive techniques we currently employ to manage these cancers in real-time for immediate patient benefit”, noted Dr Laurence Lovat, Reader in Gastroenterology as well as head of NMLC and of UCL’s Research Department of Tissue and Energy.
Gastric cancer is the second leading global cause of cancer death, with around 1 million cases in 2011 and 740000 deaths worldwide. Current treatments are debilitating and require major surgery followed by chemotherapy, UCL and PhotoBiotics pointed out.
Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) and Professor of Chemical Biology at UCL, said the “unique” combination of skills available through the research partnership means “we should be able to very quickly assess the prospects of developing a new programme of personalised treatment for patients suffering this devastating disease”.
Working with the College’s wholly owned technology-transfer company, UCL Business PLC, Caddick and colleagues at UCL Chemistry have formed a spin-out company, Thiologics Ltd, to support the commercialisation of their protein and antibody modification technology.
ThioLogics is particularly focused on delivering technology that will enable the construction of homogeneous antibody-drug conjugate therapeutics.