Evan Unger, MD, President and CEO of NuvOx Pharma, announced that NuvOx has received a $2M Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute to fund the development of a new strategy to detect pancreatic cancer.
The grant, 2R44CA203090-02, entitled “Thy-1 targeted microbubbles for early detection of pancreatic cancer,” is a joint project between NuvOx Pharma and the Department of Radiology at Stanford University.
The late Juergen Willmann, MD, was studying Thy-1 expression on blood vessels associated with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The initial Phase I SBIR grant provided funding for chemists at NuvOx to develop Thy-1 targeted microbubbles. These microbubbles were then tested pre-clinically by Dr. Willmann’s lab at Stanford University. The results showed that Thy-1 targeted microbubbles could be used with ultrasound imaging to detect PDAC tumors as small as 2-mm in size. The chemistry that NuvOx developed in the project could ultimately be suitable for translation into the clinic. It is estimated that PDAC will become the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2030. Currently, only 15-20% of patients have operable disease at the time of diagnosis.
Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Stanford University, co-Principal Investigator on the grant, said “Early detection of PDAC may enable more effective treatment. The strategy that we are developing with NuvOx has the potential to non-invasively detect PDAC while it is still curable.”
NuvOx Pharma is a privately held company based in Tucson, Arizona. NuvOx’s nanotechnology products are currently in Phase II clinical trials for treatment of stroke and cancer.
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