An exciting development in cancer research has been the discovery that the tumor microenvironment (TME) exhibits unique characteristics from healthy tissue. Researchers have hypothesized these unique tumor characteristics could be used as a targeting mechanism, further improving the precision of treatment delivery.
By seeking out highly expressed fibroblast activated protein (FAP) markers found in many tumors but not found in healthy tissue, canSEEK™ is a promising technology for use in next generation radiopharmaceuticals. Initially, POINT is exploring two applications of its canSEEK™ technology:
- Improving the safety of radioisotopes and targeting of radiopharmaceuticals - One concern with many forms of radiation therapy is that off-target delivery of radiation can damage otherwise healthy tissue. This concern is amplified with next generation alpha-emitting radioisotopes like actinium-225, due to the very high energy transfer and resulting toxic effects to impacted tissue. POINT is currently exploring using its canSEEK™ technology to decrease the risk of off-target delivery by creating tumor activated targeted radioligand therapies. These radiopharmaceuticals are designed with an outer protective layer and the targeting agent is only ‘turned on’ or activated when inside the tumor. Compared to chemotherapy which often has damaging whole body toxicity, this tumor specific therapy could represent the next frontier in precision medicine.
- Creating new, tissue agnostic, cancer specific radiopharmaceuticals – Most targeted radionuclide therapies are designed to target a limited number of cancers by targeting a receptor that is present on tumour cells of a specific type of tissue (such as prostate) but absent in all other healthy tissues. POINT is currently exploring using canSEEK™ technology to develop a single radiopharmaceutical treatment that could be applicable to a wide variety of cancers, by targeting a key characteristic of almost all cancers – the presence of fibroblast activation protein in the tumor microenvironment.