A Purdue Research Park-based company developing a method to light up previously-hidden cancer cells during surgery has secured more public and private-sector funding. On Target Laboratories LLC says it has received a total of nearly $2 million from organizations including the National Institutes of Health and the Foundry Investment Fund of Indiana.

May 4, 2015

News Release

West Lafayette, Ind. — On Target Laboratories LLC is receiving a financial boost from both private and public sectors as they close in on developing a groundbreaking method to illuminate previously hidden cancer cells during surgery.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $218,000 grant to On Target Laboratories to determine if combining their lead compound, OTL38, with another targeting molecule will provide even greater coverage across different types of lung cancer. Currently, OTL38 can identify over 90% of all Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) adenocarcinomas. According to Martin R. Low, On Target Laboratories' Chief Executive Officer, fewer than 20% of NIH grant applications are accepted and the NIH grant is above what was requested. Current investors and the Foundry Investment Fund of Indiana have contributed an additional $1.7M to continue to test OTL38 in lung cancer patients in a trial later this spring.

Additionally, late last year On Target Laboratories received FDA approval for a phase 2 ovarian cancer trial using OTL38. For that trial, On Target Laboratories received $15 million dollars from the Pension Fund of the Christian Church and Tom Hurvis, founder of Old World Industries, to enable further development of its optical imaging technology.

Currently, ovarian cancer patients receive an injection of OTL38 (the folate acid linked to a novel NIR dye) two hours before surgery. Cancer cells have an “enormous appetite” for folic acid, enabling the linked dye to specifically target the cancer, said Dr. Philip S. Low, director of the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and co-founder of On Target Laboratories.

Clinical trials in ovarian cancer so far have enabled surgeons to remove more cancerous tissue than would have been found through standard surgical methods, Dr. Philip Low also said.

“The only sure treatment for cancer is to cut it all out, and if the surgeon can see it all, he or she has a better chance to remove it,” Dr. Philip Low added.

Mayo Clinic, Penn Medicine, Moffitt, UC Irvine, and Leiden University Medical Center surgeons are participating in a phase 2 ovarian cancer trial. In addition, investigators at leading institutions are sponsoring their own trials using OTL38 in other indications (e.g., renal, pituitary, lung).

“My hope is to develop tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes for every cancer known to man,” said Dr. Philip Low. “I think that objective is achievable,” he added.

Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award number R43CA192569.

About On Target Laboratories LLC

On Target Laboratories is in the business of discovering, developing and commercializing small molecules that, when conjugated with fluorescent dyes, target and illuminate specific cancerous cells and other diseased tissue. These conjugates can be used by doctors, including surgeons, worldwide to better diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases from cancer to inflammation-related disorders.

Source: On Target Laboratories LLC

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