The pioneering technology behind the Avelas Cancer Illuminator (ACI) platform, including AVB-620, was developed in the lab of Nobel Laureate Roger Y. Tsien at the University of California – San Diego. The initial motivation behind the invention was to enable systemic delivery of cell penetrating peptides (CPP) and associated cargo to cancer cells.  Avelas is advancing programs that utilize the ACI technology for fluorescence image-guided surgery.

The ACI platform involves activatable cell penetrating peptides which use pathological enzymatic activity to selectively deliver imaging and therapeutic cargo to target tissue. Protease enzymes associated with invasive cancers activate the molecules, allowing the cargo to be locally delivered to cells.

The ACI technology has several distinctive advantages: 1) using enzymatic activity as the targeting mechanism provides molecular and biological amplification and results in high sensitivity, 2) the activatable agent masks the CPP until near target tissue which enhances systemic bio-distribution, 3) the cargo containing CPP triggers cellular binding and internalization resulting in enhanced cargo retention, and 4) the platform is general and modular allowing for broad applications.