New nuclear and fluorescence imaging agent to guide cancer surgery

8 January 2015

Grenoble-based CEA-Leti and cancer research cluster CLARA have developed a new fluorescence-imaging agent that could significantly increase surgeons’ accuracy when removing cancerous tumours.

LipImage 815 was developed in the NanoENO project, which focused on producing a nano-scale contrast agent in the near infrared range for the resection of soft-tissue sarcomas, guided by imaging.

This imaging agent is based on encapsulation of a fluorophore in Lipidots. Lipidots, Leti’s patented lipid nanovectors, are versatile nano-delivery platforms based on microscopic droplets of oil for encapsulating and carrying drugs or fluorescent imaging agents to targeted cells in the body for treatment or diagnosis.

The NanoENO project was coordinated by Leti and facilitated by the cancer-research cluster, Cancéropôle Lyon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (CLARA), which fosters high-potential partnerships between academic, clinical and industrial organizations and companies from the Rhône-Alpes and Auvergne regions under its Proof-of-Concept program and industrial transfers.

During the project, preclinical validations were made on nine cases of resection of spontaneous soft-tissue sarcomas in pet-owners’ dogs, guided by fluorescence imaging after clinical scanner diagnosis. The clinical use confirmed the fluorescence of soft-tissue sarcomas, and helped surgeons visualize the tumoral extension to reach adequate surgical margins.

The project included the nuclear medicine department at the Hospital d'Orsay, the Veterinary School of Lyon (VetAgro Sup) and Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), a European pharmaceutical group spun out of CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2002 to develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic products.

Combined nuclear and fluorescence imaging

The contrast agent, developed in the NanoENO project, can be upgraded by grafting radio elements onto its surfaces to combine nuclear imaging for diagnostic purposes with intraoperative fluorescence imaging, into a single bimodal contrast agent.

“The NanoENO team clearly demonstrated that LipImage 815 is a very promising fluorescence-imaging agent for improving both diagnosis of disease and guiding surgeons during tumor removal,” said Patrick Boisseau, head of Leti’s nanomedicine program and chairman of the European Technology Platform – Nanomedicine (ETPN). “This surgical application also shows the versatility of Leti’s Lipidots technology, which is already being adapted for medical diagnosis and cosmetics purposes by Leti partners.”

“For nearly 11 years, Cancéropôle CLARA has actively supported leading-edge clinical oncology research that capitalizes on the regions’ rich technological and medical expertise, and we have fostered transfer of the results to industry through our system of public-private partnerships,” said Dr. Amaury Martin, secretary general of CLARA. “The NanoENO project success strongly validates the mission of CLARA’s Proof of Concept program.”

The €700,000 project included funding from FEDER Rhône-Alpes and Région Rhône-Alpes, the European Fund for Economic and Regional Development and Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA).

Source: CEA-Leti

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