AREVA Med – Roche Partnership: the common research laboratory aiming to develop new radio-immunotherapy treatments for cancer is operational

Press Release
© Georges Carillo

As part of the partnership initiated in July 2012, Roche and AREVA Med, an AREVA subsidiary, have completed the construction of a common research laboratory located in France (Limousin Region). Operational since the spring of 2013, ARCoLab (AREVA Med Roche Common Laboratory) is dedicated to the development of alpha radio-immunotherapy (RIT alpha), an innovative and promising approach in the fight against cancer.

This ambitious research project brings together the expertise of the two partners: development of monoclonal antibodies targeting cancer cells and conducting clinical trials at Roche, and process engineering and isotope production of high-purity lead 212 at AREVA Med.

The anticipated underlying mechanism of action foresees an antibody to pre-target the cancer cells and to act as the anchoring location for the lead 212, a rare isotope currently at the heart of promising research in nuclear medicine. The short waves (alpha) generated by the lead 212 are supposed to locally destroy the cancer cells. This two-phased approach, which is far more targeted than traditional radiotherapy, is believed to avoid damaging the healthy cells.

ARCoLab is one the world’s leading nuclear medicine laboratories. Supported by the experts from both organisations, a joint team of five researchers and engineers from the Roche Institute of Research and Translational Medicine (IRRMT, part of Roche Pharma Research and Early Development) and AREVA Med currently evaluate the anti-tumor efficiency of the alpha RIT in different preclinical models. The first scientific results proving the mechanism of action are expected in 2014.

“If these results are conclusive, the alpha radio-immunotherapy technology may give birth, on the 2020 horizon, to a new generation of highly targeted anti-cancer treatments“, specified Corinne Le Goff, President of Roche Pharma France and the IRRMT. “We are proud of this scientific adventure taking place in France,” she added.

“The complimentary expertise of Roche and AREVA Med is simply remarkable. With this new common research laboratory, along with the expertise of our American subsidiary Macrocyclics, and Maurice Tubiana laboratory, AREVA Med has unrivalled competencies and means through which we hope for major advancements in the fight against cancer,” said Patrick Bourdet, CEO of AREVA Med.

The fight again cancer, a public health challenge and a priority for society
The fight again cancer, a public health challenge and a priority for society

Cancer is responsible for one out of three deaths for men and one out of four for women. Since 1989, it has been the primary cause of death in France, ahead of cardiovascular diseases. Even if there has been undeniable progress made the past 15 years in terms of screening, diagnostics, and care (targeted therapies, personalised medicine), the medical needs and expectations of society remain very important.

However, to offer new chances to patients, it is essential to cooperate and develop competencies and talents. This is the shared vision of Roche and AREVA Med. In France, Roche founded in 2011 the first institute dedicated to partnership research, IRRMT. The Roche – AREVA Med program could lead to the development of highly-targeted cancer treatments based on radio-immunotherapy, a technology which is today part of a growing number of preclinical and clinical research programs in France as well as the United States.