With five U.S. patents issued and dozens more filed and pending around the world, On Target Laboratories LLC is working to advance its revolutionary fluorescent imaging technology that could help surgeons pinpoint and remove more cancerous tissues than has ever been possible while preserving more healthy tissue for patients.
Headquartered at Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, the company is developing a series of molecules, which, when administered intravenously, show promise in targeting many types of cancer cells, said Dr. Sumith Kularatne, On Target’s vice president of research and development.
“In addition to our current U.S. patents, we have 11 more either filed or pending in the U.S.,” Kularatne said. “We have another 33 patents pending worldwide. These patents are very important in helping us move our discoveries to the public where they can help people.”
These molecules carry a fluorescent dye and target diseased cells, including cancer, enabling surgeons to better diagnose and remove the disease while avoiding collateral damage to healthy tissue such as nerves.
Currently, surgery is a primary treatment modality for a large number of solid cancers, and published literature shows that for many of these the initial cytoreduction (tumor debulking) has a significant impact on patient outcomes. Surgeons must rely primarily on their visual and tactile senses, aided at times by static pre-operative images, to excise the cancer.
OTL38 is a novel compound consisting of a folic acid-targeting molecule, or ligand, linked to a near-infrared dye. Following current clinical trial protocols, OTL38 is injected two hours before surgery and is intended to bind to diseased tissue, including several cancers, involving lung, ovarian, and renal. The goal of this technology is to allow the surgeon to see hard-to-detect, small cancer lesions or diseased lymph nodes that might otherwise be missed through the use of a NIR (near-infrared) camera. OTL ligands are designed to enhance the view in real time, and if proven successful, we believe may be an important addition to image-guided surgery.
“We have a very robust portfolio of intellectual property (IP),” said Martin Low, the company’s chief executive officer. “We believe, with this proprietary technology, we will enable surgeons in removing any solid tumor cancer.”
In addition to cancer, On Target technology has shown promise in targeting infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases.
One of the patents issued for OTL38, On Target’s primary molecule, is for the targeting of inflammatory diseases. Another pending patent is for the targeting of some infectious diseases.
In addition to OTL38, On Target’s other molecules include:
OTL78 which has four patents pending. It’s shown promise for prostate, brain, liver, breast and colorectal cancers.
OTL81 which has a pending patent. It’s shown promise for gastric and thyroid cancers.
OTL338 which has a pending patent. It’s shown promise for pancreatic, colorectal and kidney cancers as well as tumors under hypoxic conditions.
OTL228 which has three patents pending. It’s shown promise for ovarian, lung, breast, pituitary and other cancers as well as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and atherosclerosis.
“On Target’s patenting process has moved very quickly due to the strength of the science involved as well as the level of communication between the science and legal teams,” Kularatne said.
“Normally the patenting process can take years. But our initial five patents were issued in two years,” Low said.
Pending completion of clinical trials, commercialization of OTL38 for ovarian cancer patients is scheduled for early 2019 and for lung cancer patients in 2021.
“While we are working to protect our IP, the real goal here is to save lives,” Kularatne said. “Cancer may start the fight. We want to finish it.”