New Cancer Research Collaboration Seeks to Develop Targeted Radium Therapeutic

February 23, 2021

Pharmacy Times® interviewed J. David Robertson, PhD, director of University of Missouri Research Reactor, on a new collaboration with Advanced Accelerator Applications International to develop a targeted therapy for certain types of cancerous tumors.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed J. David Robertson, PhD, the director of University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), on a new collaboration between MURR and Advanced Accelerator Applications International (AAA) to work on the development of a targeted therapy for certain types of cancerous tumors.

During the discussion, Robertson explained how MURR and AAA are working together on this new cancer fighting collaboration, how MURR is able to support this cancer research, whether the use of reactors is a common practice in the field, what the goals of the collaboration with AAA are in terms of outcomes, whether there is a timeline on this project in terms of the collaboration, and how this potential new cancer therapy might impact the field of cancer research.

Robertson noted that in order to understand the impact this potential new therapy could have, a little history on research developments in the field is necessary for context.

“Over the last several years we've seen some great progress in the use of targeted radium therapeutics for treating metastatic cancer. For example, Bayer has a product called [radium Ra 223 dichloride (Xofigo)] which is effective in the treatment of metastatic bone cancer associated with prostate cancer in men. That's really changed the market space,” Robertson said.

He explained that in AAA and MURR’s previous collaboration, they were able to develop a prior targeted radium therapeutic that presented with positive patient outcomes, which led to this next collaboration between the organizations on another therapeutic.

“Then of course AAA’s success with their drug [lutetium Lu 177 dotatat (Lutathera)], which uses again lutetium-177 made here at the research reactor to treat neuroendocrine tumors of the mid-gut,” Robertson said. “Again, a very successful treatment with good outcomes in patients. So, the pharmaceutical industry is really, I would say, investing in the development of new targeted radium therapeutics based upon the success that we've seen over the last few years.”

Robertson also discussed what medical research MURR has been involved in previously, what kinds of projects MURR has worked on in areas such as neurology and archaeology, how research at MURR helped to develop certain medical diagnostic tools, and how coronavirus disease 2019 has impacted MURR’s operations over the past year.