The Pays de la Loire Region has been at the forefront of research on radiopharmaceuticals for over 35 years and, together with the Brittany and Centre regions, it has gathered together a critical mass of expertise and resources including forty research and care institutions, companies, and technology platforms, technical facilities and bio-collections.
This scientific community is notably based on high intensity, high energy cyclotron, Arronax, which is dedicated to innovative medical radioisotopes research and production, in order to develop related radiopharmaceuticals and technologies for oncology, neurology and cardiology. In particular, clinical trials in radio immunotherapy applied to forms of cancer, which are radiation-sensitive or resistant to other therapeutic approaches, are very promising e.g. using a radio labeled antibody for treatment of prostate cancer in phase III. The work done in this field by Françoise Kraeber-Bodéré team, at the Nantes University Hospital Nuclear Medicine Department, was rewarded with a “Victoire of Medicine” in 2009.
This dynamic development is actively supported by Atlanpole Biotherapies competitive cluster that brings together all those involved in the sector under the banner “Isotop4Life”. It is built around collective projects (EQUIPEX ArronaxPlus, LABEX IRON, NucSan) and industrial projects (THERANEAN, Quanticardi, TheraneaM). It is funded by the state and local authorities particularly within the future investments program. Other tutorial projects (FIRM, La Fabrique, ERIVAC) aim to endow the West of France with a genuine industrial sector open to international trade, with the objective that the “Clinic of the Radio Immuno Therapy (RIT)” would take in patients from all over the world.
Focus on EQUIPEX ArronaxPlus
ArronaxPlus’ objective is to structure, strengthen and coordinate five technology platforms in order to develop molecular imaging and “vectorized” radiotherapy (irradiation of a tumor with a radioactive element, alone or linked to a vector) for the improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. These platforms will be exploited to increase knowledge on the impact of ionizing radiation on matter, produce medical radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals, validate these products in the context of translational research projects and undertake the training of users. ArronaxPlus high quality equipment is spread over several academic laboratories including GIP ARRONAX, Nantes-Angers Cancer Research Center (CRCNA), subatomic research lab Subatech, research laboratory in organic chemistry CEISAM, Oniris veterinary school, Nantes University Hospital nuclear medicine department and West Cancer Institute. Carried out by GIP ARRONAX, it was funded in 2012 by the state as part of the call for projects EQUIPEX within the future investment program (PIA) and by local authorities, supervisory bodies and private investors up to € 8 million over 8 years, including € 6 million investment in equipment.
The year 2014 was marked by:
- technology platforms installation works,
- the acquisition and installation of new equipment,
- the production of radionuclides,
- the launch of experimental studies and clinical trials in molecular imaging and “vectorized” radiotherapy on several cancers,
- the filing of a patent,
- the development of an educational project i.e. creation of a master’s degree in radiobiology at Tours University, and also implementation of practical training on automata synthesis and radiation physics, which is European-oriented (ITN MEDICI-PROMED)
- plus, in conjunction with other PIA strategic projects (LABEX IRON, DHU Onco-transplant),
- the creation of four jobs,
- and the recruitment of a PhD student.
The outlook for 2015 and 2016 concern:
- the completion of installation and equipment works,
- operating rules, offer and business plan definition,
- certification and commercial launch of technology platforms,
- continuation of scientific programs,
- strengthening the links with other PIA projects (IRT Jules Verne, LABEX IRON, LABEX IGO, LABEX MabImprove, DHU onco-transplant).