GRANTS. Sture Lindegren, an associate professor at the Department of Radiation Physics, is receiving almost SEK 1 million from the Swedish Research Council’s Proof of Concept call for proposals. The funds from SRC will enable him and his colleagues to proceed with a clinical trial of a new treatment for ovarian cancer. This involves establishing a platform to produce drugs based on the radioactive element Astatine-211 (At-211).
The radiopharmaceuticals being tested to treat ovarian cancer are based on astatine, an alpha-emitting radioactive element. Astatine, the heaviest halogen in the periodic table, is one of the rarest elements on Earth so it must be produced artificially in a cyclotron. After production, At-211 must be converted into a chemically usable form, which then can be connected to tumor-specific molecules. Until now evaluation of treatment with At-211 antibodies has been done preclinically and in a phase I study of a small number of patients with good results, but to be able to conduct the upcoming larger clinical trials (phase II/III studies), researchers have to automate production of At-211 radiopharmaceuticals.
“We have developed a platform that automatically converts At-211 into a chemically useful form after production in the cyclotron and in sequence connects At-211 to tumor-specific molecules. This module can improve and simplify the preparation of At-211 radiopharmaceuticals,” Lindegren explains.
By offering a commercially available platform for isolation of At-211 after production and synthesis of At-211 molecules, the researchers also want to help other researchers with basic research and pre-clinical and clinical research related to At-211, thereby contributing to the development of the field. Automation is also necessary so that personnel who are not specialists in astatine chemistry can prepare At-211 radiopharmaceuticals for clinic and larger clinical studies.
“For our research team the application is treatment of ovarian cancer with At-211 coupled to tumor-specific antibodies. We believe that our module will be absolutely necessary for our study and other large clinical studies using At-211 radiopharmaceuticals,” says Lindegren.
The grant from the Swedish Research Council means Lindegren and his colleagues can proceed with development of the platform and continue the commercialization process, with support from Chalmers Ventures.
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN
PHOTO: EMMA ANEHEIM