With New Funding, Avelas Moves Closer to a Color-Coded Map of Cancer
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showing how fluorescing peptides could be used to illuminate the increased activity of enzymes called proteases. Protease activity is high in tumor and metastases, so a peptide that glows in the presence of high protease activity could be used to illuminate cancerous tissue. When used with a fluorescence imaging camera system during surgery, the technology would provide a color-coded map of the cancer, enabling surgeons a way to immediately differentiate healthy tissue from cancer tissue.
Under current treatment standards, tissue around a primary breast tumor is biopsied when the tumor is removed, and the samples are sent to pathology for analysis. But the analysis takes time, and often requires a follow-up surgery—a process that exposes the patient to additional surgical risk and cost.
Avelas says the accuracy of its AVB-620 molecule is better than 95 percent in pre-clinical studies using living tissue. A similar approach using genetically engineered peptides is under development at Seattle’s Blaze Bioscience, which raised $9 million last month.
“AVB-620 will enable surgeons to identify cancerous tissue during the surgical procedure, addressing a key unmet need in the oncologic surgery space,” Stengone says in a statement the company released today. “This capability will allow surgeons to make real-time decisions that will improve patient treatment and lead to significant cost savings by reducing surgical time and the number of re-operations.”
In its statement, Avelas also named Stengone and Nikolay Savchuk, the managing director at Torrey Pines Investment, to the Avelas board of directors.
Jay Lichter, an Avalon managing partner who served previously as the CEO at Avelas, was named board chairman. The statement also noted that Kinsella and Timothy Scott, the president and co-founder of the San Diego CRO Pharmatek Laboratories, will continue as board members.