Otelfingen/Oxford - Philochem and Blue Earth Diagnostics have examined their first three patients as part of a Phase 1 clinical trial. The trial aims to develop a small organic molecule for imaging applications that can selectively detect a range of metastatic tumors.

Philochem, a biotechnology company based in the vicinity of Zurich, and Blue Earth Diagnostics from Oxford in the UK, are advancing their cooperation first agreed in March 2022 to cover the development and commercialization of OncoFAP for imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. As the partners have now announced, they have started their Phase 1 clinical trial in Europe, in which up to 20 patients are set to be enrolled. The first three were examined in November at the National Cancer Institute (Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori) of Milan, Italy.

Philochem is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss-Italian Philogen Group based in the Italian city of Siena. The group conducts its research activities at Philochem in Switzerland. The company’s strategy is based on selectively delivering bioactive agents to the site of disease using antibodies or small organic ligands. Blue Earth Diagnostics is an indirect subsidiary of the Milan-based firm Bracco Imaging, which focuses on molecular imaging.

Philochem and Bracco entered into a collaboration and license agreement to develop OncoFAP in March 2022. This is a proprietary small organic ligand with ultra-high affinity for the fibroblast activating protein FAP, which is disproportionately present in 90 percent of cancers. According to this information, OncoFAP is “proven” to be able to selectively detect a number of metastatic solid tumors in cancer patients. The partners claim that this has the capacity to deliver “unprecedented specificity and sensitivity for the imaging of solid tumors.”

Philochem discovered this important ligand for tumor targeting in 2021, before publishing the first paper on this subject in the same year. Prof. Dr. Dario Neri, Member of the Board of Directors of Philochem and CEO of the Philogen Group, comments: “We believe that OncoFAP technology has the potential to open the door to a new approach in tumor diagnostics in addition to significantly improving diagnosis and informed management for patients with solid tumors”. ce/mm

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