The Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquartered company recently secured $90m in a series A financing round, co-led by Third Rock Ventures and an undisclosed healthcare fund. Previous investors of the company, F-Prime Capital and Omega Funds, contributed to the final sum. This June, the company launched its clinical pipeline with a $23m seed financing round. ARTBIO’s lead candidate is AB001, an alpha-emitting isotope based on lead-212 which is being developed for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Alongside therapeutic development, ARTBIO is centring its efforts on building a new approach to alpha radioligand therapy manufacturing, to improve upon previous production and distribution challenges. The biotech’s AlphaDirect technology produces alpha isotopes using a benchtop format, rather than the usual nuclear reactors or high-energy cyclotron setup. This allows multiple different facilities to be used to assemble the therapeutic product. The proprietary isolation technology also includes no separation, leading to 99.9% purity, according to the company’s website. This mode of operation is meant to minimise uncertainty and cost, as materials can be accessed through nuclear stockpiles.
Radioisotopes are now commonly used in diagnostic procedures and as a key component of cancer care. In recent years, there have been supply shortages for the most widely used medical radioisotopes molybdenum-99 and technetium-99m which are commonly used in noninvasive diagnostic imaging techniques.
Ostuni predicts that ARTBIO’s approach may fix upon issues with shortages in isotope production. The CEO says that money from the recent financing round will be key in the development of AlphaDirect. He adds that, in the future, the company aims to own the intellectual property for its manufacturing approach. “We are going to scale up initially with CDMOs because they have the facilities in place and they allow us to very quickly get into production and into Phase I and longer term, we are going to have to decide whether we stay with that setup, or whether we go our own way,” says Ostuni.
In July, ARTBIO announced a multi-year partnership with SpectronRx to manufacture a critical component of the AlphaDirect platform. The agreement includes “an initial technology transfer and development phase, followed by qualification and release of the technical components,” as per a 24 July press release. SpectronRx is a contract development manufacturing organisation that specializes in regulatory consulting and global logistics with expertise in radiotherapies and a range of isotopes.
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