Pharmimage adds members and extends research platform

23 June 2010

Pharmimage, a French group specialized in the use of imaging to measure the efficacy of new therapies for the pharmaceutical industry (pharmaco-imaging), has acquired four new members and plans two major additions to its research resources.

The announcement was made by Oncodesign, the leader of the Pharmimage GIE (economic interest group). Oncodesign also said that one of the new members, Cyclopharma, will make an important contribution to the group’s research facilities by building a cyclotron and radiolabeling unit starting this month (June 2010).

Oncodesign, a specialist in the identification of novel cancer therapies and an active member of Pharmimage, says that the public–private partnership pharmaco-imaging research centre will bring together in less than one square kilometre all the skills, equipment and pre-clinical and clinical imaging technologies needed for measuring the efficacy of future therapies.

The research platform represents an investment of 5 million and will be financed by local public entities (the Regional Council of Burgundy, the General Council of Côte d’Or and Greater Dijon) and the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). It is expected to go live by 2011 and provide five to ten jobs.

Cyclopharma will build and operate the platform for early stage research. It will add a cyclotron for scientific and medical use and a radiochemistry unit to Pharmimage’s existing research facilities. Access to these two units will enable the radiolabeling of molecules and the availability of the most important short life isotopes needed for imaging technologies used in pharmacology.

This equipment will feed two nuclear medicine imaging platforms, one at Oncodesign, which will be equipped in 2011 with a microcamera for use with small animals and one at the Georges Leclerc Center for the Fight against Cancer for clinical research. The new research centre will also offer services to the pharmaceutical industry, mainly in oncology and cardiology.

Four new members have joined Pharmimage since the beginning of the year. They are NVH Medicinal, a biotechnology company, ICTA a clinical contract research organization, and the Nevers Hospital Center as well as Cyclopharma. Cyclopharma will bring its capabilities in radiochemistry to the group, skills that are essential for the development of radiolabels. With these new members, Pharmimage now has a complete set of skills to validate new molecules.

“We are delighted to see the plans for this research platform become reality,” said Philippe Genne, CEO of Oncodesign and administrator of Pharmimage. “This confirms Pharmimage’s unique position as the most important pharmaco-imaging cluster in France.”

“What particularly attracted Cyclopharma to Pharmimage was the research it is carrying out into pharmaco-imaging, especially in biomarkers to measure the efficacy of treatments and diagnostics using positron emission tomography in oncology,” said Dr Bernard C Salin CEO and founder of Cyclopharma.

A cyclotron is a particle accelerator that produces radioactive isotopes. Coupled with molecules of interest, these isotopes make up labels allowing observations by means of a dedicated camera using imaging techniques. In 2007, there were 156 cyclotrons being used partly or wholly for medical purposes in Europe. The great majority have an energy and intensity that restricts them to the production of fluorine-18.

In January 2007, France had 27 cyclotrons. The radiolabelling unit enables the labelling of molecules with radioactive isotopes produced by the cyclotron. It requires a high level of competence in radiochemistry. The Dijon cyclotron will initially be able to label with Fluorine 18, Copper 64 and Carbon 11.

To top