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EXACT Therapeutics and GE to develop ultrasound probe for ACT sonoporation

John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 22, 2021
Business Affairs Rad Oncology Ultrasound
EXACT Therapeutics and GE Healthcare are working together to develop a probe for helping to deliver ACT therapy to cancer patients
EXACT Therapeutics, a clinical stage precision medicine company, and GE Healthcare are developing an ultrasound probe to help apply Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT) in patients with cancer and other diseases.

With ultrasound applied, ACT sonoporation holds the potential to enhance the clinical use of a wide range of therapeutic agents for multiple indications, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy in oncology, infectious diseases, and neurological conditions.

"The goal will be for the probe to address the key requirements of the ACT therapeutic amplification platform of being able to deliver ultrasound in a targeted and precise manner whilst the associated software will aim to enable 3-dimensional visualisation and tracking of the procedure, all complemented by a familiar and simple user interface," Dr. Rafiq Hasan, CEO of EXACT Therapeutics AS, told HCB News.

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Insufficient amounts of drugs for targeting the site of an issue limits treatment. Some treatments can also create systemic side effects due to the dose amount required to achieve optimal outcomes, such as chemotherapy.

Once ACT is injected, ultrasound is applied to the target site to convert microbubbles and microdroplets into a single larger bubble. The ultrasound settings are then adjusted to activate the larger bubble to expand and contract at approximately 500,000 times per second, causing it to act similarly to a micro-pump exerting biomechanical forces against the blood vessel wall, and deliver more of the therapeutic agent directly where it needs to go. The ACT sonoporation is applied for a few minutes and the large bubble dissolves where the gas is breathed out.

This technique enhances treatment for multiple diseases, including pancreatic, breast, colon and prostate cancer, as well as for controlled blood-brain barrier opening. GE will provide its expertise and technological knowledge of tranducers, while EXACT Therapeutics will define the specification for the probe to amplify targeted therapeutic activity. This includes defining acoustic output requirements, ergonomics, geometries, and performing validation, according to Hasan.

ACT is currently being assessed in the international ACTIVATE Phase I clinical trial, which consists of patients with metastatic colorectal and pancreatic cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. A phase II clinical development program is planned.

"We intend to address multiple disease areas and indications with this innovative probe," said Hasan. "EXACT Therapeutics' initial focus is in oncology with a phase II program likely to include multiple indications such as pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and soft tissue sarcoma."

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