NuView, Otsuka Pharmaceutical establish cancer biomarker licensing deal

A Utah company will rely on a Japanese pharmaceutical partner to help develop and bring to market its diagnostic imaging biomarker for breast and prostate cancer, and potentially other tumors.

Neither NuView Life Sciences of Park City nor Tokyo-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical are discussing financial details. The deal calls for Otsuka to supply funding for all subsequent clinical trials and the commercialization of NuView's VPAC1 biomarker in a number of cancer-related diagnostic imaging applications.

VPAC1 has its origins at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. It is generating interest because early studies have shown that it binds just to suspect cancer cells or tumors. Assuming the partnership yields regulatory approvals, VPAC1 will be used as a radiopharmaceutical to help diagnose certain cancers in positron emission tomography (PET) procedures, the companies said. VPAC1 is flagged with a low-level radioactive agent, and a PET device would pick up the radioactive material.

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University have already tested VPAC1 in early human studies, the deal announcement noted, and they determined that it could have some real benefit in helping physicians to determine if a patient has prostate or breast cancer, or rule out both.

A test that can identify and clearly rule out cancers would have real benefit because it can be pitched as a diagnostic tool that helps save healthcare costs. Such a diagnostic biomarker could more quickly and clearly spot certain cancers, or determine if they're not the health issue at hand. Existing tests for prostate, breast and other cancers lack specificity or sensitivity some of the time, leading to inclusive diagnoses and then invasive and costly biopsies or treatments that aren't actually needed.

Many more clinical trials are needed for VPAC1 before it can be marketed in the U.S. or globally. This long process begins, at least, with the Otsuka/NuView licensing deal. NuView manufacturing subsidiary US Radiopharmaceuticals will work with Otsuka to begin a Phase I U.S. trial in the coming months. Let's just hope Otsuka has deep enough pockets and determination to keep the collaboration going long enough to generate clinical certainty about VPAC1's utility.

As part of the licensing deal, NuView also keeps some important ownership rights to VPAC1, including the ability to use it for in vivo delivery of therapeutic treatments and in vitro urine screening.

- read the release

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