Diffuse drug ultrasound therapy for glioblastoma multiforme
Alpheus Medical is targeting brain cancer with its combined drug-device sonodynamic therapy, offering a potential new treatment for patients who have few options. The company’s device is used in combination with a cancer cell-targeting drug to induce apoptosis in solid tumors. It is heading for its first human trial after the company closed a $16 million Series A funding round. The funding was led by OrbiMed Advisors and Action Potential Venture Capital, with additional investors Medtech Convergence Fund and investment groups from the National Brain Tumor Society and the American Cancer Society.
The company’s first FIH trial will involve patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (rGBM), a disease that is mostly fatal and has few effective treatments. “These patients have been on suboptimal treatments for too long,” said Vijay Agarwal, MD, neurosurgeon, founder and CEO of Alpheus Medical. “Over the past hundred years, there have been minimal advances in the treatment of brain tumours.”
Diffuse tumors that are difficult to treat
rGBM tumors are particularly difficult because the cancer spreads to all tissues and the impact on healthy brain tissue has serious consequences. “What makes surgery and radiotherapy so dangerous is that the brain is such a complex organ. If you damage any part of the normal brain, it will undoubtedly lead to clinical effects,” Agarwal said. , a therapy that can affect multiple areas and precisely attack cancer cells is needed.
“Brain cancer is a diffuse disease, so it requires a non-focal solution,” Agarwal explained. “Surgery or targeted therapies do not treat the disease—you have to deal with half the brain. Distinguishing cancer cells from normal cells and selectively targeting these cancer cells is our goal. The goal was to develop smart technology, [which] could select brain tumor cells from the normal brain.
The device uses an FDA-approved sono-sensitizing drug used to visually distinguish tumor cells, and its non-invasive ultrasound technology to target these cells for elimination. During treatment, a patient drinks a solution with the drug which then travels to the tumor cells. Alpheus’ sonodynamic therapy device noninvasively targets drug-laden tumor cells, causing them to release an oxygen radical that results in cell death.
Agarwal noted that treatments last from a few minutes to about an hour, have minimal impact on patients, and can be repeated as needed. “We envision this being a treatment that patients can receive over time, perhaps once a month,” Agarwal said, adding that the treatment could be a monotherapy or combined with others. diets.
Aim to treat the incurable
The device’s promise has caught the attention of two leading cancer organizations—the American Cancer Society and the National Brain Tumor Society—who backed part of the company’s Series A funding. “We were fortunate to be selected by these groups to help advance sonodynamic therapy and Alpheus Medical’s brain tumor treatments,” said Agarwal. “It really helps get the message across and reinforces the message that our goal is to be the most effective treatment for brain cancer.” The company’s goal is to improve survival and quality of life in cancers that have had little measurable improvement.
“We think it could be a platform technology. Our ultimate vision is that it could also be a treatment for other solid body cancers,” Agarwal said. “We want to take these really acute terminal illnesses and make them manageable and treatable over a long period of time. We want to be a paradigm shift in the way cancer is treated.
The funding will be used to advance the FIH trial and safety and efficacy studies, as well as to examine potential in other solid body tumors.