The Grand Opening of POINT Biopharma's Indianapolis Manufacturing Facility
All common cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, external beam radiotherapy and surgery, put a significant burden on both patients and their families. A new generation of radiopharmaceutical treatments are improving patient outcomes by precisely targeting tumors using ligands carrying radioisotopes. Lutetium-177 (Lu-177) has emerged as one of the radioisotopes of choice for the new generation of radiopharmaceutical treatments. Lu-177 does not appear naturally in nature; its production and usage is truly a remarkable feat.
Rare minerals are mined that contain trace amounts of Ytterbium, a metal with the symbol Yb on the periodic table. Pure Yb is then purified from the mineral ore.
The purified Yb is sent to a Calutron, a machine similar to a mass spectrometer, which further separates the purified Yb based on its mass. This process creates a stock of stable isotope Yb-176.
The Yb-176 is transported to a nuclear reactor, where it is irradiated. The addition of neutrons turns a small amount of the Yb-176 into a new isotope, Lutetium-177.
Time is of the essence; the Lu-177 contained in the Yb-176 target has a half-life of only 6.6 days. It is therefore immediately transported to POINT's facility, where the Lu-177 will be purified, combined with the targeting ligand, and shipped to a treatment site for injection into the patient, all in ~4 days.
First, a diagnostic scan using a camera that detects radioisotope emissions is performed on patients injected with the ligand carrying an imaging isotope such as Gallium-68 that targets a receptor in the tumor.
The tumors illuminated in the imaging scan can be targeted using a similar ligand carrying a therapeutic isotope such as Lutetium-177, to deliver radiation directly to the tumor.
New tissues agnostic ligands have the potential to exponentially increase the number of cancer indications treated by radioligands. An example of a tissue agnostic ligand is our PNT2004 program, which targets Fibroblast activation protein-α (or FAP-α). Found across a wide variety of tumors, targeting FAP-α with a radioligand could significantly increase that number of patients which could benefit from this breakthrough technology.
In addition to new targeting innovations, technologies to further increase the precision of radioligands are being developed by POINT, like our CanSEEK™ technology that prevents radioligands from binding to targets in healthy tissue, limiting accumulation of radioactivity in undesired locations.
New radioisotopes like Actinium-225 and Astatine-211 are also beginning to enter clinical trials, each with a unique set of cancer fighting characteristics. More radioisotopes will enable new treatments, further improving patient outcomes.