UCL Innovation and Enterprise


UCL and Photobiotics partner in new approach to diagnose and treat gastric cancer

24 October 2013

An interdisciplinary research team from Photobiotics and UCL has been awarded £175,000 from the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) Biomedical Catalyst1 to develop a fundamental new approach to the diagnosis and treatment of gastric cancer.

The award will support a study combining the photodynamic drug technology of PhotoBiotics with protein conjugation chemistries produced by researchers at UCL’s Department of Chemistry. The collaboration will also be supported by the antibody and preclinical evaluation expertise of UCL’s National Medical Laser Centre (NMLC).

The aim of the collaboration is to produce and evaluate a multi-functional agent that can both aid in the detection of gastric cancer at initial diagnosis, as well as subsequently being used to treat the lesion by photosensitiser drug activation.

Working with UCL Business PLC – UCL’s wholly-owned technology transfer company – Professor Stephen Caddick and colleagues in UCL Chemistry have formed the company Thiologics Ltd to support the commercialisation of their protein and antibody modification technology.

Globally, gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death with around 1 million cases in 2011 and 740000 deaths world-wide2. Current treatments are debilitating and require major surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Commenting on the award, Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) and Professor of Chemical Biology at UCL, said:

“We have a unique combination of skills which mean that we should be able to very quickly assess the prospects of developing a new programme of personalised treatment for patients suffering this devastating disease.

“We are committed to using our every resource to develop new treatments for patient benefit and the present collaboration shows just why London has the capacity to be a fantastic hub for the rapid development of modern therapeutics."
Dr Laurence Lovat, Reader in Gastroenterology & Head of NMLC & Research Department of Tissue and Energy at UCL said:

“This exciting award will allow us to develop a novel dual-functioning smart drug with our collaborators to diagnose and treat gastric cancer patients in a single procedure. Our strategy aims to enhance the efficacy of minimally invasive techniques we currently employ to manage these cancers in real-time for immediate patient benefit.”

Dr Deonarain, Chief Scientific Officer at Photobiotics, added:

“Photonics is being recognised as a key area for therapeutic and diagnostic development. This award will allow PhotoBiotics to generate some value from its proprietary photosensitising drugs showing how it can be integrated with other technologies to generate innovative agents with unique patient benefits in areas of great unmet clinical need.”