|Challenge: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a condition associated with loss of blood vessels in the lungs leading to a gradual increase in shortness of breath and substantial disability and mortality. The development of effective drugs is impeded by the lack of non-invasive tests to detect the disease at an early stage and to follow its progression.
Solution: The goal of this project was to generate a non-invasive test to assess the severity of the disease over time and in response to treatment. The team developed PulmoBind, a novel marker that can detect abnormalities of pulmonary circulation linked with PH. This radio-labelled peptide derived from human adrenomedullin, enables rapid quantification of lung blood vessels using a standard nuclear medicine imaging system (Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography: SPECT imaging). Extensive preliminary animal studies have identified PulmoBind as the most promising molecular marker of lung vascular disease.
Achievements/Impact: The clinical phase 1 trial demonstrated that PulmoBind was safe and showed a favorable dosimetric profile while generating excellent quality lung images. A phase II was then performed on 15 normal subjects and 30 patients with pulmonary hypertension as proof of concept. This trial not only revealed that PulmoBind imaging is safe in PH patients, but also showed that SPECT imaging with PulmoBind could detect significant abnormalities in these individuals. The principal investigator also developed a diagnostic PulmoBind kit ready for commercialization that can be incorporated into phase III clinical trials. PulmoBind has thus the potential to become the first non-invasive molecular imaging agent for early pulmonary hypertension diagnosis. Collaborating with Merck, a new version of PulmoBind compatible with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging was validated in preclinical setting.
These results contributed to the development of Pulmoscience, a Montreal biotech that aims to pursue the development of PulmoBind through additional clinical trials and to bring the diagnostic kit to the market.