UCL and Photobiotics partner in new approach to diagnose and treat gastric cancer

25 October 2013

An interdisciplinary research team from Photobiotics and UCL has been awarded £175,000 from the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) Biomedical Catalyst1 to develop a fundamental new approach to the diagnosis and treatment of gastric cancer.

The award will support a study combining the photodynamic drug technology of PhotoBiotics with protein conjugation chemistriesproduced by researchers at UCL’s Department of Chemistry. The collaboration will also be supported by the antibody and preclinical evaluation expertise of UCL’s National Medical Laser Centre (NMLC).

The aim of the collaboration is to produce and evaluate a multi-functional agent that can both aid in the detection of gastric cancer at initial diagnosis, as well as subsequently being used to treat the lesion by photosensitiser drug activation.

Working with UCL Business PLC – UCL’s wholly-owned technology transfer company – Professor Stephen Caddick and colleagues in UCL Chemistry have formed the company Thiologics Ltd to support the commercialisation of their protein and antibody modification technology.

Globally, gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death with around 1 million cases in 2011 and 740000 deaths world-wide2. Current treatments are debilitating and require major surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Commenting on the award, Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) and Professor of Chemical Biology at UCL, said:  We have a unique combination of skills which mean that we should be able to very quickly assess the prospects of developing a new programme of personalised treatment for patients suffering this devastating disease.

“We are committed to using our every resource to develop new treatments for patient benefit and the present collaboration shows just why London has the capacity to be a fantastic hub for the rapid development of modern therapeutics.”

Dr Laurence Lovat, Reader in Gastroenterology & Head of NMLC & Research Department of Tissue and Energy at UCL said: “This exciting award will allow us to develop a novel dual-functioning smart drug with our collaborators to diagnose and treat gastric cancer patients in a single procedure. Our strategy aims to enhance the efficacy of minimally invasive techniques we currently employ to manage these cancers in real-time for immediate patient benefit.”

Dr Deonarain, Chief Scientific Officer at Photobiotics, added:  Photonics is being recognised as a key area for therapeutic and diagnostic development. This award will allow PhotoBiotics to generate some value from its proprietary photosensitising drugs showing how it can be integrated with other technologies to generate innovative agents with unique patient benefits in areas of great unmet clinical need.


 Notes for Editors:
1. https://www.innovateuk.org/
2. Cancer Research UK Statistics, 2010.

For more information on PhotoBiotics’ technology, please contact Dr Mahendra Deonarain, on m.deonarain@photobiotics.com.

For more information on UCL’s protein conjugation technology, please contact Dr Chris Williams, on c.williams@uclb.com

For media enquiries, please contact the UCL press office on 0207 679 9063 or h.rummins@ucl.ac.uk

About UCL (University College London)
Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by our performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world.

UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Our annual income is more than £800 million.

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About UCL Business
UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com

About PhotoBiotics
PhotoBiotics Ltd is a multidisciplinary company spun out from Imperial College London to explore ways of targeting drugs directly to tumours, thus enhancing the efficacy of cancer treatment while also reducing unwelcome side-effects. The Company has developed a range of potent and effective photo-active drugs (photosensitisers) to act as novel payloads with lower side effects than conventional drugs. The PhotoBiotics’ R&D team has already succeeded in its initial objective of targeting photosensitiser-based drugs to tumours, generating compelling efficacy data in various orthotopic and xenograft models, and has a product ready to enter preclinical toxicology / clinical development.

About The National Medical Laser Centre
The National Medical Laser Centre, founded in 1986 by Professor Steven Bown, is a centre within UCL’s Division of Surgery and Interventional Science. The philosophy is to understand how light can interact with biological tissue and then to identify how these effects can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. The centre has a worldwide reputation for outstanding comprehensive research which allows PDT (photodynamic therapy) to be used as a treatment for many different cancers and diseases.

For further information, visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/surgicalscience/departments_research/gsrg/nmlc.

About Thiologics
Thiologics is a UCL Business wholly owned company spun-out of UCL Chemistry.  The company aims to commercialise new bioconjugation technologies developed in the laboratories of Professor Stephen Caddick and Dr James Baker. ThioLogics is particularly focused on delivering technology that will enable the construction of homogeneous antibody drug conjugate therapeutics (ADCs).

For further information, please visit: www.thiologics.com