A decade ago, it was claimed that alpha-emitters are indispensable when it comes to optimisation of strategies for tumour therapy. Over time, this robust statement has become increasingly relevant, which has resulted in research aiming to develop alpha therapy which can be used in the clinic to substantially improve outcomes for cancer patients. This is exactly what healthcare entrepreneur Jan van Bodegom, MD will present at the 3rd Annual Targeted Radiopharmaceuticals (TRP) Summit in Berlin between 7 and 9 December 2021. A must for anyone interested in nuclear medicine and/or oncology with a focus on truly innovative therapies.
Van Bodegom himself is no stranger to innovation; in 2013, he founded the first breast cancer hospital in Europe. As an oncologic surgeon, he wanted patients to experience the best possible care, which is why he built the Alexander Monro Hospital, serving as its director. “A tremendously educational time”, he recalls. When he left the hospital after five years, he co-founded the first focus clinic for prostate cancer in Delft (the Reinier Haga Prostate Cancer Center). He also aided hospitals in building a better culture.
Then another opportunity presented itself to van Bodegom. “The Swiss company Coretag Therapeutics AG contacted me; they were looking for an experienced oncologic medical doctor with proven entrepreneurial skills to become part in building a new Targeted Radio Pharmaceutical company to bring their high potential necrosis targeting platform to the patients. Necrosis targeting is a novel approach in addition to existing therapies, which works by attacking surrounding living cancer cells from the necrotic cores and cells (these are especially present in malignancies) instead of attacking a specific type of cancer cell.” This idea appealed to van Bodegom; he saw the immense potential of this method and decided to join Coretag where he now serves as CMO.
He thoroughly enjoys being part of a dynamic development process: “It all started from scratch; originating from a patented concept based on animal studies to developing medicines which become available for humans.” This process is long and includes various steps. Van Bodegom explains that besides utilising beta emitters like 177Lu attacking surrounding cancer tissue, cancer stem cells are holding up in necrotic regions of the tumor and play an important role in recurrence. “Chemotherapy and radiotherapy cannot reach these regions. So particularly in necrosis, alpha emitters are of additional value. When Coretag considered using 212Pb as an alpha emitter, NRG came into the picture. Based on the favourable properties of 212Pb, Coretag decided to establish a new company, Alphathera AG, which is focussing on developing targeting alpha therapies by combining different targeting compounds with 212Pb in partnership with NRG as a steady supplier of 212Pb by gearing up the production in 2022 onwards.”
“Accelerated availability of targeted alpha therapy for patients can make a real difference”
Together with an experienced medical team, Alphathera aims to select the most promising targeting compounds to combine these with 212Pb and develop these new targeting therapies with the goal to achieve EMA and FDA marketing authorisation and introducing new promising cancer treatment to the patient. Currently, Alphathera is looking for targeting compounds that could form such a promising combination. Based on their seasoned team, the experienced partners and their financial capabilities, Alphathera is able to execute an efficient and effective development process with the main goal to introduce game changing cancer therapies for the patient. “If any of the attendees of this congress have promising tumour-specific targets, we would like to combine these targeting compound with 212Pb in a targeting radiotherapy. We aim to create some fruitful collaborations. It would be great to get into contact with medical specialists, institutions and companies which have promising developments which we can partner with and initiate a development partnership.”
As alpha therapy is quite young, the indications for its use still need to be set. Van Bodegom sees a clear future for this type of treatment. However, it is still early days…“It is a booming market, but at the same time, the availability of alpha emitters is not widespread. Besides, there are only a few labs that can work with alpha emitters. Conducting an experiment in a limited period is therefore quite difficult. With our network driven by the 212Pb supply of NRG and their FIELD-LAB partnerships, we can strengthen one another. Ultimately, we want to bring products for patients to the market, to make them available so that patients can benefit from these new approaches in cancer treatment.”
Van Bodegom will be presenting two sessions at the TRP summit:
Coretag, introducing its necrosis targeting platform technology
Jan van Bodegom will introduce the new diagnostics of Coretag for staging cancer and determining cancer therapy efficacy based on the Necrosis Targeting Platform Technology. He will also present the therapeutical ambition of treating cancer with beta and alpha emitters targeting necrosis in solid tumours and metastases.
Alphathera, accelerator for lead-212 targeting alpha therapies
Radiopharmaceuticals have the unique advantage of being both diagnostic and therapeutic. Coretag aims to select biologically relevant, tumor specific targets suitable for targeted radiotherapy with 212Pb alpha therapy. These targets have a high expression on solid tumors with little to no expression on normal tissues. Many tumor targets have already been clinically validated but have yet to be pursued as radiopharmaceutical with 212Pb. Alphathera aims to build a pipeline for the development of different therapies based on different proven solid tumor specific targets.