Algeta Sees ’Widespread’ Interest in Thorium Cancer Technology

Algeta ASA, the Norwegian company partnered with Bayer AG for one of its experimental cancer treatments, has seen “widespread” interest in collaboration on a second, its thorium-227 technology, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Kay said.

Thorium-227 is an alpha-particle emitting element that can be linked to monoclonal antibodies to create localized tumor-killing cancer treatments. Algeta is already working with Sanofi, Ablynx NV, Affibody AB and Immunomedics Inc. in studying their monoclonal antibodies linked with Thorium-227, a technology that shows potential across a broad range of cancer targets, Kay said in an interview today in London.

Monoclonal antibodies, which are biological drugs that include Roche Holding AG’s cancer medicines Herceptin and Rituxan and Abbvie Inc.’s Humira, are among some of the most profitable drugs on the market today. Drugmakers are seeking to improve these treatments by making them more targeted with fewer side effects, something that Oslo-based Algeta’s technology allows.

“We’ve seen widespread inbound interest from a whole range of companies, from large pharmas, biosimilar makers and biotechs,” Kay said. “Should it be successful, there is a whole future of targeted molecules we could conjugate thorium to. In theory, this could be a very long future pipeline for us.”

Clinical Testing

Algeta will be selecting further collaborations on thorium-227 over the next year, and also advance one or two of its existing programs into clinical testing next year, Kay said.

Algeta’s most advanced program, radium-223 dichloride for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer, was submitted to regulators in December. Last month, the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted priority review for the treatment, which means it will come to a decision within eight months of the filing, rather than the standard 12-month cycle.

Algeta and Bayer AG will split the profits from sales of the treatment in the U.S., an agreement that covers revenue from all potential indications. The company is awaiting a decision from Bayer on its strategy for expanding development of radium-223, including potential studies in breast cancer and osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.