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Progenics inks licensing pact with Johns Hopkins University for agent to image prostate cancer using PET scan

Tarrytown, New York
Thursday, August 6, 2015, 14:00 Hrs  [IST]

Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc., engaged in developing innovative medicines for oncology, has entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Johns Hopkins University for [18F]DCFPyL (PyL), a clinical-stage prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeted imaging agent for prostate cancer.

PyL, when used in conjunction with high-resolution PET imaging, has shown potential for use in identifying prostate cancer and sites of relapse. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

PyL was developed by a team led by Martin G. Pomper, M.D., Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. An early stage clinical trial of PyL with PET imaging in men with prostate cancer demonstrated uptake of PyL in sites of putative metastatic disease and primary tumors not seen with currently approved imaging techniques, suggesting the potential for high sensitivity and specificity in detecting prostate cancer.

"PSMA-targeted imaging agents have the potential to change how prostate cancer is diagnosed, monitored and treated and have the potential to lead to better outcomes for patients," said Mark Baker, chief executive officer.

"Based on studies conducted by Dr. Pomper's team, PyL, a PET imaging agent, has demonstrated the potential to detect even minimal levels of prostate cancer which will complement our SPECT/CT imaging agent 1404, currently in development. We are excited about the opportunity to advance the development of PyL."

PyL complements Progenics' existing portfolio of candidates for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer, including 1404, the company's lead PSMA-targeted imaging agent that is used in conjunction with widely-available SPECT-CT imaging. Progenics intends to initiate a phase 3 programme for 1404 for initial diagnosis and early monitoring applications, while initially focusing the development of PyL with high resolution PET imaging to detect and localize recurrent disease in patients who have experienced a biochemical relapse.

PyL is a clinical-stage, fluorinated PSMA-targeted PET imaging agent for prostate cancer that was discovered and developed at the Center for Translational Molecular Imaging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A proof-of-concept study published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Molecular Imaging and Biology demonstrated that PET imaging with PyL showed high levels of PyL uptake in sites of putative metastatic disease and primary tumours, suggesting the potential for high sensitivity and specificity in detecting prostate cancer.

Progenics' molecular imaging radiopharmaceutical product candidate 1404 targets the extracellular domain of prostate specific membrane antigen, a protein amplified on the surface of > 95 per cent of prostate cancer cells and a validated target for the detection of primary and metastatic prostate cancer. 1404 is labeled with technetium-99m, a gamma-emitting isotope that is widely available, is easy to prepare, and is attractive for nuclear medicine imaging applications. The image created provides the opportunity to visualize cancer, potentially allowing for improved detection and staging, more precise biopsies, and a targeted treatment plan including active surveillance as a disease management tool.

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer affecting men in the United States: an estimated one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 27,540 men will die of the disease and that approximately 2.9 million men in the U.S. currently count themselves among prostate cancer survivors.


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