The combination of novel molecular imaging agents and advanced visualization such as endomicroscopy is a promising avenue for advancing personalized cancer diagnosis.

In a first study, EM Imaging will supply EMI-137, a safe and well-tolerated clinical grade investigational molecular optical imaging agent to two investigational sites to perform clinical efficacy studies in pancreatic and lung cancers.

The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will evaluate suspected lung cancer patients while Groningen Medical Centre will study EMI-137 in early stage pancreatic cancer. Both centers will image EMI-137 in real time at the cellular level using endomicroscopy with Cellvizio.

Intravenous administration of EMI-137 leads to its selective accumulation in c-Met-expressing tumors, which can then be detected optically via fluorescent markers that are attached to the molecular imaging agent. c-Met is a receptor tyrosine kinase, whose over-expression is known to be associated with tumor growth and correlates with a poor clinical prognosis in many cancer types.

"We have been at the forefront of image-guided surgery with novel molecular markers and advanced imaging modalities for several years. With Cellvizio and EMI-137, we will now enable for the first time highly specific real-time imaging at the cellular level in solid tumors", said Prof Go Van Dam, Professor of Surgical Oncology, and Dr Wouter Nagengast from the Optical Molecular Imaging Group (OMIG) at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG).

"This combination of molecular markers, targeted macroscopic image-guided surgery/endoscopy and endomicroscopy represents a significant clinical milestone that we are about to embark upon."

"Lung Cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world and any methodologies that could allow us to improve diagnosis, treatment monitoring and surgical resection are urgently required", said Dr Kev Dhaliwal, Senior Lecturer in Pulmonary Molecular Imaging at the University of Edinburgh and Consultant Pulmonologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

"We will evaluate the potential impact of Cellvizio and EMI-137 in our patients working alongside surgeons and pulmonologists at the University of Edinburgh."

In a second project, it is planned that EM Imaging will provide EMI-200, a neutrophil targeting optical molecular imaging agent developed for topical administration in the lung. The presence of neutrophils in the lung is correlated to an inflammatory response and as such is clinically useful in the acute care setting to improve diagnosis of critically ill patients.

Studies will be performed under an investigator-sponsored eIND (Emergency Investigational New Drug) at Cleveland Clinic in acute care patients. In this study, the Cellvizio platform will also be used to image neutrophil activity in real-time at the cellular level.

"Early detection and verification of disease at the point of care continues to be a major challenge to patient care and management", said Ian Wilson, CEO of EM Imaging.

"This collaboration potentially addresses these major unmet medical needs by combining targeted molecular agents with the most advanced imaging technology available to improve disease detection and guide intervention. We look forward to pioneering this approach with Mauna Kea and our clinical partners."

"Combining our unique endomicroscopy platform with highly-specific molecular markers from EM Imaging is another key milestone in our development strategy to bring in vivo examination to a level never reached by existing standards. We are delighted to partner with EM Imaging and leading clinical institutions such as the UMCG, Cleveland Clinic and Edinburgh with the common goal to revolutionize the way cancer patients are diagnosed", said Sacha Loiseau, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Mauna Kea Technologies.