SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from Echelon Biosciences, Inc. and collaborators from the University of Utah report the use of ATX-Red AR-2 as a new imaging agent that effectively illuminates tumors.
Published Nov. 20, 2013 in the open-access journal, PLOS ONE, the report describes the use of ATX-Red AR-2 for imaging breast cancer tumor masses in living mice.
"ATX-Red AR-2 is an exciting advancement for pre-clinical drug discovery and development, allowing researchers the ability to monitor diseases and drug candidates using a non-invasive, mechanism-specific diagnostic," said Dr. Chad Testa, Vice President, Research and Development at Echelon Biosciences, Inc.
Visualizing the activity of the enzyme autotaxin (ATX) promotes the development of treatment for cancer and other diseases by allowing researchers to witness the effectiveness of a drug candidate in a live animal non-invasively -- no surgical procedure is required.
"Validating that your drug candidate works against its intended target in a living animal overcomes a significant hurdle in the therapeutic development process," said Testa.
Echelon Biosciences synthesized ATX-Red AR-2 to include proprietary dyes licensed from LI-COR® Biosciences that emit light when viewed in the near-infrared spectrum, which is ideal for imaging in animals.
When administered intravenously, ATX-Red AR-2 specifically targets ATX, which activates the probe causing it to emit light. In the absence of ATX there is no emission of light.
"Researchers can measure the effectiveness of their potential drug candidate by viewing the amount of light the probe emits – a decrease in signal reflects successful disease suppression," said W. Tim Miller, President and CEO of Echelon Biosciences.
ATX is essential in cell growth – in both normal physiology and in several diseases – with elevated levels found in many cancers, including those of the breast, pancreas, kidney and brain; and in arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, neuropathic pain and obesity.
There is considerable effort to develop drugs that are active against ATX, as this enzyme has a fundamental role in multiple diseases.
"If future studies show that ATX-Red AR-2 is as effective and safe as we think it is, this tool could be used to improve human health in several ways," said Dr. Damian Madan, lead author on the PLOS ONE publication, "Physicians could locate tumors more easily and determine if therapies are effective – if surgical resection is needed, ATX-Red AR-2's ability to illuminate the cancerous tissue could make the surgeon's job much easier."
Continued research of ATX-Red AR-2 demonstrates applications in tumor and arthritis treatment, as worldwide collaboration expands the potential of this technology.
Please contact Echelon Biosciences at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about ATX-Red AR-2 or for collaboration opportunities.
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. IIP-1127467. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.
About Echelon Biosciences, Inc.
Founded in 1997 in Salt Lake City, Echelon Biosciences specializes in chemistry and biology in the continually expanding field of lipid signaling, glycosaminoglycans and peptides. Research is focused on biochemical / biomarker assay development, reagents, diagnostics, and services (screening assays and custom assays). Additional focus on biological pathways include PI 3-kinase and phosphoinositide signaling, sphingolipids, autotaxin and lysophospholipids, heme pathways, isoprenoids, methylerythritol phosphate pathway and extracellular matrix components. Disease focus includes cancer, inflammation, metabolism and neurobiology.
About PLOS ONE: PLOS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLOS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource. Link to publication.
SOURCE Echelon Biosciences, Inc.