Big pharma’s embrace to propel this cancer treatment

Eleanor Swanson

Firetrail Investments

One thing investors cannot ignore in 2021 is the impact Molecular Targeted Radiation (MTR) will have on cancer patient outcomes.

What is Molecular Targeted Radiation?

MTR can be used to diagnose or treat cancer and is delivered to patients intravenously. The MTR compound consists of three key elements:

  • a targeting agent
  • a linker
  • the “payload”.

The targeting agent is a molecule or antibody that binds to proteins specifically expressed by cancer cells. 

The linker chemically attaches the targeting agent to the payload and is often the key piece of IP protecting against competitors replicating the MTR compound.

The payload is a radioactive isotope. When delivered to patients at lower doses (as a diagnostic) the isotope lights up the cancer cells on a PET scan. When delivered to patients at higher doses (as a therapeutic) it can kill the cancer cells.

How MTR improves patient outcomes

MTR diagnostic tests have superior sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional imaging methods. Sensitivity is the correct identification of a patient with cancer, whilst specificity is the correct identification of a patient that doesn’t have cancer.

Conventional imaging techniques, such as bone or PET scans, are more convenient and cost-effective than MTR. However, because MTR increases diagnostic accuracy, the longer-term health economics stack-up. Not only does MTR reduce the need for future scans, but it allows doctors to better tailor treatments to patient’s needs, based on the individual diagnosis, delivering superior outcomes.

On the therapeutic side, the benefit is that MTR is only delivered to areas where the cancer target is expressed. As a result, MTR inflicts significantly less damage to healthy tissue when compared to traditional radiation therapy. In addition, the treatment can target much smaller tumours.

Why MTR is a space to watch in 2021

MTR has been around for 20 years. But big pharma’s interest in the space has increased recently as medical authorities have changed their view on personalised medicine. What was previously considered an unnecessary cost is now considered an exciting opportunity to improve longer-term patient outcomes and thus reduce the burden on the healthcare system.

See a summary of recent MTR M&A activity below.

Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX: TLX) is the best way to get exposure to the MTR thematic on the ASX in 2021. Telix currently has radiopharmaceutical assets under development across Prostate Cancer, Renal Cancer and Glioblastoma. In addition, the company completed a deal to acquire TheraPharm, broadening the company’s theranostic capability into hematologic diseases.

TLX has multiple share price catalysts in 2021, including:

  1. The FDA review of their prostate cancer imaging product for commercial use
  2. Read-out of Phase III trial of renal cancer imaging agent
  3. Launch Phase III registrational trial of prostate cancer therapeutic product

MTR is one thing investors cannot ignore in 2021. Keep an eye on the news flow over the next 12 months for exciting updates.

One thing investors can't ignore in 2021

The above wire is part of Livewire's exclusive series titled "The one thing investors can't ignore in 2021." The series will culminate in the release of a dedicated eBook that will be sent to readers on Monday 21 December. You can stay up to date with all of my latest insights by hitting the follow button below.

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1 stock mentioned

Eleanor Swanson
Analyst
Firetrail Investments

Eleanor is an Equity Analyst at Firetrail Investments. Eleanor's primary sector responsibilities include Media and Technology. Eleanor has 5 years relevant industry experience.

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