Novel imaging agent targets pancreatic cancer

MabVax Therapeutic Holdings, in collaboration with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), is presenting an investigational agent for imaging pancreatic cancer and aiding pancreatic tumor resection, MabVax announced Nov. 19.

The San Diego-based pharmaceutical company has developed the agent, called HuMab 5B1, to carry two separate imaging agents conjugated with a tumor-seeking antibody to improve tumor targeting and surgical removal.

"With five-year survival rates in pancreatic cancer of only 5 percent and more than half of all patients initially diagnosed already having metastatic disease, the difficulties in identifying distant metastases that often go undetected as well as problems defining tumor margins during resection are both major concerns that affect outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients,” said MabVax president and CEO J. David Hansen, in a press release. “This study showed favorable results for the dual labeled antibody in detecting human pancreatic cancer cells in the animal model."

Researchers used both PET and near-infrared imaging, both of which showed strong uptake of the drug, and fluorescent tagging improved image-guided surgical resection of targeted tissues. The HuMab 5B1 antibody is also being groomed for use in colon cancer research.

The human antibody is derived from cancer vaccine research conducted at MSKCC in New York. A dual phase I trial for HuMab 5B1 is set for sometime in 2015 at the institution.