Nuclear oncology company Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) says the first two patients with advanced lung or ovarian cancer have been dosed in a phase-one study of its potential cancer imaging therapy, Apomab.

The trial will involve 18 cancer patients at Royal Adelaide Hospital, testing whether Apomab technology allows doctors to track the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments.

Apomab uses antibodies that are attracted to a protein that’s only expressed by dead and dying cancer cells, such as those produced by chemotherapy.

The antibodies are labeled with a low dose of radiation, allowing them to be tracked with a PET scanner.

Knowing whether the chemotherapy is working could be helpful for patients in deciding whether or not to endure a grueling second round.

But if the proof-of-concept works, researchers believe the Apomab antibodies could eventually be used to deliver a higher dose of radiation to the cancer cells, killing them and boosting the effectiveness of existing cancer treatments.

“The dosing of these first patients is the culmination of more than a decade of fundamental research around a novel oncology target, and enables the evaluation of the potential of APOMAB as a targeting agent for imaging and therapy,” lead investigator Professor Michael Brown said.


Significant unmet medical need

Cancer Australia estimates that this year 8,641 Australians will die from lung cancer, and 1,068 Australian women will be killed by ovarian cancer.

Telix chief executive Dr Chris Behrenbruch said while there was a significant unmet medical need to treat both cancers, the company believed Apomab had the potential to be used for multiple cancer indications.

“We are particularly pleased to be supporting an Australian researcher of the calibre of Professor Brown, who is highly recognised as a pioneer in this field,” Dr Behrenbruch said.

Telix is developing the technology in partnership with AusHealth and has agreed to pay the “profit-for-purpose” company up to $30m in milestone payments and royalties if the platform is successful.