New technology set to revolutionise treatment of hard-to-treat cancers
SingHealth and Sirtex sign master agreement to explore full potential of novel technology
Most patients with hard-to-treat cancers or cancers that have spread are faced with limited treatment options and a short life span. But this bleak outlook may soon be a thing of the past. Under a new Master Research Collaboration Agreement, signed by SingHealth and Sirtex Medical Ltd (ASX:SRX) today, researchers from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) will explore the potential of a new technology, known as Carbon Cage Nanoparticles.
Developed by the Australian National University, Carbon Cage Nanoparticles can safely deliver radioactive substances to specific cancer sites deep within the body. The nanoparticles may even evade detection by patients' immune systems, improving their ability to target specific cancers.
The master agreement will comprise several research projects. The first will evaluate the technology's use in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer that has spread within the abdominal and pelvic cavities. Ovarian cancer is a common cancer in women and has few or no symptoms in its early stages. As a result, most women are diagnosed late, when the disease has spread and prognosis is poor. Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Singapore and has claimed the lives of nearly 500 women here between 2006 and 2010.
Besides ovarian cancer, gastro-intestinal, hepatobiliary and other female genito-urinary cancers may also benefit from this treatment approach.
"Sirtex's partnership with SingHealth is a clear testimony of our capability to provide high quality pre-clinical and translational research that can be used to develop new products. Collaborations with industry partners such as Sirtex provide new, cutting-edge technologies that allow us to offer our patients better treatment options, faster," said Professor Soo Khee Chee, Deputy Group CEO (Research and Education), SingHealth, and Director, NCCS.
"We are pleased to be working with researchers from SingHealth to see our Carbon Cage Nanotechnology move to the next phase. We are now directing this technology to address specific unmet clinical needs in the treatment of cancers. SingHealth has the expertise to effectively conduct pre-clinical development and quickly translate these findings into clinical use," said Mr Gilman Wong, Chief Executive Officer, Sirtex.
Mr Kevin Lai, Director, Biomedical Sciences, Singapore Economic Development Board, welcomed the collaboration. "The Sirtex-SingHealth collaboration showcases the strengths of Singapore's translational clinical research ecosystem. Singapore's clinician scientists have the ability to help companies develop novel applications for innovative, cutting-edge, technologies. This validates Singapore's position as a node for the innovation and commercialization of biomedical research."
About Carbon Cage Nanoparticles
Carbon Cage Nanoparticles can carry a high internal payload of radioactive material while the outer carbon shell is chemically inert and possesses ideal properties for the attachment of cancer-targeting agents or coatings that can impart stealth-like properties to the nanoparticles. Such properties can enhance their ability to evade detection by the immune system, thus improving their ability to target specific cancers.
Carbon Cage Nanoparticles are sub-micron size particles of graphitic carbon that encapsulate a metallic core. The technology is well proven, having its genesis in Technegas which was originally invented by Dr Bill Burch at the Royal Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University in 1984. Technegas has been widely used in Nuclear Medicine as an inhalable aerosol of Carbon Cage Nanoparticles containing a radiologically detectable radioisotope for the diagnosis of blood clots in the lungs. Sirtex has been working closely with the prestigious Australian National University for the past six years to develop an injectable form of the Carbon Cage Nanoparticles that can carry therapeutic radioisotopes for the treatment of cancer and has in-licensed this technology from the Australian National University.
About Sirtex Medical Limited [ASX:SRX]
Sirtex is a global oncology company, publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in August 2000. Sirtex is the market leader in Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) and today has a market capitalisation in excess of SGD 700 million. Sirtex has successfully commercialised SIR-Spheres® microspheres, a targeted radiation therapy for liver cancer and has supplied over 25,000 doses to more than 620 medical centres in 31 countries.
Sirtex selected Singapore as its Asia-Pacific Regional Headquarters in 2010 and opened its offices in September 2011. Sirtex commenced manufacturing in Singapore in July 2011 to supply SIR-Spheres microspheres to the Asia-Pacific and European markets. These manufacturing operations supplement Sirtex's existing manufacturing in the United States and Australia. Sirtex's Global Head Office is in Sydney, Australia, the Americas Regional Headquarters is located in Boston, USA and the European, Middle East, African (EMEA) Regional Headquarters is located Bonn, Germany.