Avelas Cancer Illuminator™
The Avelas Cancer Illuminator™ (ACI) is a proprietary fluorescent peptide that uses elevated protease activity of invading and metastasizing cancer to fluorescently label cancerous tissue with high sensitivity and specificity. Administered to the patient before surgery, ACI can create a sensitive and real-time illuminated cancer map for the surgeon during the operation when used with a fluorescence imaging system.
The fundamental technology utilizes a cargo-attached poly-cationic delivery peptide tethered to, and functionally inactivated by, a poly-anionic component. Proteases associated with aggressive cancers cleave the connecting substrate tether. After cleavage, the delivery and inhibitory peptides dissociate allowing the cargo to be locally delivered to cells. Avelas' technology has several distinctive advantages: 1) using enzymatic activity as the targeting mechanism provides molecular amplification and sensitivity, 2) the masked, uncleaved agent enhances systemic bio-distribution, 3) the unmasked poly-cationic delivery peptide triggers cellular internalization and enhanced cargo retention, and 4) the platform is general and modular enabling one to change protease targeting and cargo with simple substitutions.
Avelas' lead ACI program is focused on breast cancer where it could enable real-time visualization of lymph node metastases and primary tumor margins, significantly improving surgical staging and decreasing positive margins which lead to reoperations.