Spotlight on M2Target!
M2-Target aims to develop a non-invasive imaging method for the detection and quantification of M2 macrophages. This method is based on a new radiotracer (called 68Ga-ABSCINT-206) initially developed at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). It is composed of a single-domain antibody fragment – also called “nanobodies”- that recognizes a receptor (CD206) overexpressed on the surface of M2 macrophages. This new imaging method will be developed to detect and monitor cardiac sarcoidosis, a severe disease of unknown origin in which the immune system forms multiple points of inflammation in the heart muscle. This new imaging method will therefore allow an early diagnosis of this disease, an indispensable medical need for the prevention of cardiac complications.
M2-Target, with a duration of 48 months, associates ABSCINT, a recently created company, two industrial partners IRE and XPress Biologics and two academic partners, UCLouvain (MIRO Unit) and VUB (ICMI Unit).
The project has started on March 1, 2021.
We sat down with Karine Clauwaert, CEO of ABSCINT to know more about the next steps of this R&I collaborative project:
BioWin: At which stage is the project now and what are the next steps/milestones?
Karine: We have two lead projects. Our first product has undergone toxicity studies and we will soon start our efficacy studies. Our other lead product is at present in phase II with a different formulation than the one we want to commercialize.
BioWin: How was/is the collaboration with the different partners in the consortium and what was the added value of BioWin?
Karine: The consortium exists of 5 parties, Abscint included. The parties are very complimentary. We collaborate with XPress Biologics for the production of the product, IRE participates in the project and they help with radiolabeling of our molecule. IRE will also create a device for radiolabeling in order to simplify the labeling procedure. UCL and VUB will help us with the clinical and preclinical work.
The help we received from BioWin was extremely important. By asking relevant questions and giving advice to improve the project as well the presentations given to defend it. Biowin helped us in shaping the final outcome.
BioWin: Does the newly created company have a physical workplace yet and do they have a website where we can find more information about the project?
Karine: At present, we work from within Accessia Pharma in Liège. Our website is www.abscint.com.
BioWin: How many staff do you currently employ, and do you plan to hire more employees in the near future?
Karine: At present we are 5 people but we will soon hire additional people. We anticipate that the number of employees will around 20 in 2025 en 30-35 in 2030.
BioWin: Are you seeking additional collaborations with other partners in the future? Are these local players within the Walloon ecosystem or also international?
Karine: It is indeed our goal to collaborate with the biotech ecosystem and the other players in the radiopharmaceutical field.
BioWin: When will this product hit the market and which geography are you targeting?
Karine: It is our goal to commercialize our first two lead products as of 2026. We will first target the European market but we will also distribute our products in the US, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Australia and New Zealand and maybe additional countries.
BioWin: What is your hope for the future?
Karine: We hope that our diagnostic products will be used to correctly diagnose people in order to give them access to the right therapy. Our molecules are also very well suited to perform treatment guidance and evaluation of therapy meaning that we can help doctors making the right selection of the best treatment options for their patients.
Companies : ABSCINT, IRE, Xpress Biologics
Universities : UCLouvain (Unité MIRO), VUB (Unité ICMI)