Eisai subsidiary Morphotek has entered an agreement with the Targeted Alpha Therapy Group (TAT Group ) at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden to research and develop farletuzumab for alpha-particle radioimmunotherapy in ovarian cancer.
Farletuzumab is an investigational anti-folate receptor alpha monoclonal antibody (mAb), which binds to folate receptor alpha, a protein highly expressed in ovarian carcinoma but largely absent from normal tissue.
In radioimmunotherapy, mAbs are attached to radioisotopes that may potentially deliver highly cytotoxic radiation in a targeted and more direct way to relevant cancer cells.
Compared to beta emitters, the use of alpha emitters may potentially allow killing of only targeted cells binding with the vector due to the short alpha particle track.
The deal will initially see farletuzumab being investigated as an alpha therapy vector in preclinical laboratory studies, followed by the overall objective, which will evaluate the safety and efficacy of alpha-radiolabeled farletuzumab in women who enter remission upon completion of first-line treatment.
Morphotek Clinical Operations vice-president Charles Schweizer said: "We are excited to enter this collaboration with the TAT Group in this innovative field of radioimmunotherapy research.
"We continue our commitment to explore product development strategies that may potentially generate clinically meaningful improvements over current treatment options for ovarian cancer patients.
"This alpha-radiolabelled version of farletuzumab complements our current strategy of treating patients with relapsed, platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer with low CA125."
Currently, farletuzumab is being evaluated in a clinical trial in first-relapsed, platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer patients with low CA125 levels.
The double-blind, randomised-controlled trial is designed to prospectively evaluate the clinical effects observed in the previously conducted Phase III trial in the pre-specified subset of patients treated with farletuzumab exhibiting low CA125 levels.
Research activities of the TAT Group will be coordinated by various departments at the Sahlgrenska Academy , University of Gothenburg, under the direction of Sahlgrenska University Hospital group head and oncologist Per Albertsson.
Image: Intermediate magnification micrograph of a low malignant potential (LMP) mucinous ovarian tumour. Photo: courtesy of Nephron.