Investing R&D
in PET contrast agents

Lantheus Starts Phase I Study for Cardiovascular Agent Using PET

September 23, 2009
by Lynn Shapiro, Writer
Lantheus Medical Imaging--contending that PET scanning is a superior method of identifying heart abnormalities compared to standard SPECT scans--is putting its R&D muscle behind contrast agents that work effectively with PET.

The company has recently started Phase I trials of LMI1195, a small molecule tracer designed to provide intricate images of the heart.

This high-quality imaging can not be had with SPECT, Scott Edwards, Ph.D. Vice President, Global Research & Development, tells DOTmed News. Edwards says that when physicians look at the heart using PET, they not only see it more clearly but also can quantify what they're seeing. For example, he says patients with heart failure are currently assessed based upon clinical information as well as on left ventricular function to determine whether they're suitable candidates for ICD's.

"The assessment measures vary from site to site and are not particularly accurate in identifying patients who will have sudden cardiac death due to
arrhythmia, and would thus benefit from the device," Edwards says. In fact, he notes, "the 2008 Heart Rhythm Society Guidelines describe the challenge of not having really good measures for determining ventricular function."

PET Market Taking off

Although widely used by oncologists, PET scanning is rarely used in heart patients, Edwards says, although he notes the cardiovascular market for
PET is poised for substantial growth.

Last year, PET procedures among heart patients increased 7 percent to about 1.8 million exams, according to a report from market research firm Bio-Tech Systems.
By 2016, PET procedures are expected to account for 54 million annual heart exams, the report says, providing tremendous upside for Lantheus.

No Nuclear Reactor Needed

Not only does PET provide better images than SPECT, SPECT relies on the TC-99m isotope that is manufactured in nuclear reactors, such as the Ontario facility that has been shut down for repairs. As the Canadian reactor produces approximately 40 percent of global supply, its shutdown until next year has forced downstream producers like Lantheus to scramble to find new suppliers.

"With PET scanning, we do not have to depend on nuclear reactors to supply the F-18 isotope," Edwards says. "F-18 is manufactured in cyclotrons in the U.S."

Second Tracer in Phase II Trials

He says Lantheus is also developing a new type of myocardial perfusion tracer that works effectively with PET, now undergoing Phase II trials. The tracer measures how well the blood is flowing in the coronary artery in order to spot arteries that may be blocked.

"We're excited about the increase in PET scanning for heart disease and plan to develop a rich pipeline of agents for PET," Edwards says.

Source: Lantheus Medical Imaging

See related story:
CT Measures Up To Spect When It Comes to Heart Health