ImaginAb envisions in vivo molecular imaging tech as treatment assessment tool

ImaginAb in Los Angeles has formed a new partnership with a German rival intended to apply its in vivo molecular imaging agent technology toward assessing how patients with autoimmune diseases are faring with their treatments.

ImaginAb said it would work with Novotectid GmbH in Leipzig to pursue the development of antibody-based imaging agents that could image CD4+ immune T cells. Neither company is disclosing financial specifics, but the work could have a lot of spillover benefits.

Consider that CD4+ T cells are a big part of autoimmune diseases and cancer. As ImaginAb explains in its announcement, clinicians increasingly see CD4+ cells as serving an important role in how tumors function. Some believe these cells could also be a factor in immunologic tolerance of when tumor cells multiply. More broadly, scientists see them also playing a part in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Crohn's disease. The idea is that treatment and disease diagnosis could be better addressed by PET-imaging CD4+ cells in the context of their correlation with T-helper immune function. This would potentially help clinicians with everything from selecting patients for new treatments to assessing therapeutic response to drugs.

Anna Wu

ImaginAb's co-founder and chief scientist, Anna Wu, noted in a statement that patients with autoimmune diseases don't yet have a solid way to definitively measure how well they respond to treatments. This partnership could change this, she said.

"CD4 immunoPET imaging has the potential to identify the patients most suitable for a variety of commercially significant drugs, … and monitor therapeutic efficacy," Wu said. "This will also impact the clinical development of 'next generation' RA therapies under development, improving patient outcomes and reducing the cost to the healthcare system."

Novotectid CEO Michael Lutz said in a statement that CD4+ imaging should have a broad application to help better understand immunological-related diseases. So far, he said, early studies have shown that imaging CD4+ cells with a monoclonal antibody fragment in arthritis patients has shown some viability, as well as safety and tolerability.

Novotectid's partnership with ImaginAb will help make this process more viable and also leverage a number of unnamed biopharma collaborations already in play, he said.

ImaginAb, a UCLA spinoff, inked a deal with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore in June designed to develop in vivo molecular imaging agents focused on cancer, immunology and disease areas unique to Asia. This and the company's latest deal have yet to prove themselves, and a positive outcome and daily use of the diagnostic tech is a long way off. In the meanwhile, clinical testing in both projects will be interesting to watch.

- read the release

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