TetraKit Technologies develops the next generation of superior theranostic radiopharmaceuticals for targeted alpha therapy of metastatic cancers using the TetraKit Platform. We chatted with Andreas Ingemann Jensen, CEO of TetraKit Technologies, about the company’s value proposition and its critical learnings from engaging with investors.
What is the critical driver for Tetrakit Technologies?
The key drivers for TetraKit Technologies are two-fold. We focus mainly on a specific alpha-particle emitting therapeutic radionuclide called astatine-211, which has the most optimal properties for treating systemic metastatic cancers. While we are solving the challenges in preparing radiopharmaceuticals with this radionuclide in a practical way, its availability is still in a relatively early stage.
However, astatine-211 can be produced on small particle accelerators known as cyclotrons as a key advantage to remedy this. While about a handful of such cyclotrons exist in Europe and the US each, increased production of astatine-211 is needed for large-scale clinical implementation. This process has been initiated and accelerated by a European network that works to further astatine-211 usage in Europe, and a couple of American companies, Ionetix and Nusano, aim to supply commercial astatine-211 in the US. In addition, the company Alpha Nuclide is ramping up in Shanghai, and Japan already has a considerable supply.
Accordingly, much of the needed astatine-211 supply is in an early stage but rapidly emerging. A further driver is the general market for radionuclide therapies, which has seen immense growth and investment in recent years. As this type of therapy becomes even more established in clinics worldwide and the number of compounds in clinical development increases, TetraKit Technologies and other developers in the field will benefit.
What is the idea behind the company?
Theranostics is a highly advantageous way to treat metastatic cancer using radiopharmaceuticals. Essentially, these compounds deliver radioactive atoms – radionuclides – to tumors. The radionuclides then emit either long-range radiation, which allows doctors to see the spread of cancer on diagnostic scans, or short-range radiation, which allows for local, therapeutic destruction of the cancer cells.
The significant promise here is a highly effective therapeutic alpha particle treatment that destroys even the smallest metastases and spares surrounding healthy cells. You could say that radiotherapy is brought directly to the cancer cell and cancer cells in the entire body. The challenge is that preparing radiopharmaceuticals that incorporate the best radionuclides for theranostics is problematic from a technical standpoint.
TetraKit is a click-chemistry-based radiochemical platform that will allow us to label essentially any compound with the best “pair” of radionuclides, fluorine-18, which provides the best basis for high-resolution medical PET scans, and astatine-211 which delivers alpha particles, a superior and clinically demonstrated way to destroy cancer cells in the body specifically. The TetraKit platform originates from Matthias Herth’s lab at Copenhagen University. It quickly became apparent that it had substantial commercial application as a superior way to prepare optimal radiopharmaceuticals, resulting in the foundation of TetraKit Technologies.
Who are your main competitors, and how do you differ from them?
Our unique approach involves a universal click-chemistry-based radiolabeling platform that can be applied to label all cancer-targeting vectors with essentially any radionuclide. However, we believe radiohalogens offer the most benefits. The technology allows plug-and-play style development and radiopharmaceutical synthesis without requiring subsequent purification before injection.
As far as we know, no other company is commercializing this technology. In this respect, we tend not to see other companies as competitors but as potential collaborators, which is how we approach our peers and companies not currently in the radiopharma space but wishing to enter.
We now focus on expanding the TetraKit platform’s use via collaborations and in-house drug development programs, labeling targeting vectors, such as small molecules, peptides, and proteins, that deliver drugs to the most promising targets. Other companies that develop radiopharmaceuticals for the same targets are potential competitors. Still, in such cases, we would differentiate ourselves positively via the advantages of the TetraKit platform and the best radionuclides.
Which key takeaways have you obtained from pitching to investors and trying to sell the TetraKit platform?
Initially, our focus was demonstrating the utility of the newly invented TetraKit platform via a “showcase” program. We developed a TetraKit version of a PSMA inhibitor, a well-known and clinically validated targeting vector, for example, used in the recently approved Novartis drug Pluvicto. That process took one year and turned out well, and now it demonstrates that the platform works.
However, we quickly learned that investors were eager to see us expand the pipeline by developing therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals in less busy spaces and with promising new lead assets. That is now the main focus of TetraKit Technologies, to establish a broad pipeline of programs via partnerships and one or two proprietary lead assets developed in-house.