Theralase Uses Light to Destroy Lung Cancer Cells in Lab Studies

Anti-cancer pharma Theralase Technologies (TSX-Venture: TLT)(OTCQX: TLTFF) said early Monday that it has advanced its novel light-activated Photo Dynamic Compounds technology to target and destroy human lung cancer cells in two laboratory studies in mouse models. The latest research builds upon early lab work that showed the Toronto-based company’s lead compound, TLD-1433 was effective and destroying several non-small cell lung cancer cell (NSCLC) lines.

The compound, along with the accompanying laser technology, has been demonstrated to work on certain cell lines of many types of cancer in early research, including brain, throat, colorectal, cervical and bladder. Lung cancer remains an area of great unmet medical need, killing more people each year than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Theralase is taking a different approach than typical small molecules or immunotherapies to attack the cancer. In the case of the NSCLC lines, the company is leveraging the fact that the cancerous cells have on their surface a high level of transferrin receptors (TfR), carrier proteins that allow the cell to absorb iron, a metal critical to energy production and metabolism that supports the high proliferation rate of tumor cells.

Theralase’s TLD-1433 is a ruthenium metal-based molecule that possesses similar chemical properties to iron that bonds with transferrin to produce what Theralase calls Rutherrin™. By doing so, TLD-1433 can be transported in high quantities to cancer cells with high selectivity through the high quantities of TfR.

Once the TLD-1433 is in the tumor, Theralase uses Near Infra Red light to activate the compound, causing it to produce a deadly form of oxygen called “Reactive Oxygen Series” that destroys the tumor from the inside out.

Scientists at Theralase tested this hypothesis in subcutaneous and orthotopic models of NSCLC, inducing tumors, injecting Rutherrin through IV, conducting the light process and re-examining 48 hours later to find the therapy was far superior to controls in destroying tumors. The orthotopic model is particularly important because the treatment process depicts the strategy planned for human trials with the laser light delivered directly to the lungs through fiber optics via the trachea.

“This research lays the ground work for further preclinical experiments to optimize the dose of Rutherrin® and laser light delivery strategy and if proven successful, the commencement of a Phase Ib clinical study for NSCLC, the leading cause of cancer related death,” said Dr. Arkady Mandel, interim CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Theralase, in today’s news release.

Shares of TLT, which aren’t much above their 52-week low at 18.5 cents are trading up 7.5% in early Monday action at 21.5 cents.