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The founding members of Chimera Research Group have over 50 years of combined experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical sector. Their experience includes work at Investment Banks, Hedge Funds, Pharmaceutical Companies, top-tier Universities, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).... More
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  • MagForce- Revolutionizing Cancer Treatment With Nanotechnology 0 comments
    Dec 6, 2010 1:51 AM
    MagForce is a Frankfurt listed company developing nanotechnology based therapies for solid tumors. Its patented technology is based on the superparamagnetism of iron oxide nanoparticles, which can be manipulated in a magnetic field. The company’s main product, NanoTherm, was approved in the EU in June 2010 for the treatment of glioblastoma.
    Iron oxide nanoparticles is an active area of research in oncology. Initially studied as a cancer imaging agent for MRI scans, interest has grown in its use as a therapeutic. But aside from MagForce, all other developments are in the pre-clinical stage.
    NanoTherm is an aqueous solution of iron oxide nanoparticles, each 12nm in diameter and coated in aminosilane. The aminosilane aids in preferential uptake and retention of the iron oxide by cancer cells. Studies in lung cancer cells showed a 15-fold increase in uptake by cancer cells over normal cells. The particles were also retained in the cells over multiple generations.
    Treatment with NanoTherm involves injection of the magnetic solution directly into the tumor where it is actively taken up by malignant cells. This procedure is aided by CT imaging to determine subsequent treatment parameters and optimize the magnetic field strength. The patient is then placed in a unit that generates a magnetic field that can alternate 100,000 times a second, inducing rapid polarity changes in the iron oxide and causing significant heat build-up.  
    Heat generated from the iron oxide nanoparticles can raise the temperature inside tumors up to 51º C. A sustained temperature of 43º C is sufficient to kill tumor cells. NanoTherm involves a combination of direct cell killing through thermal ablation and sensitization of remaining cancer cells to radiation treatment in what is called hyperthermia. To this end, radiation is used as an adjunct therapy to NanoTherm.
    Results from MagForce’s Phase II efficacy study were published earlier this year. The study accrued 66 patients with progressive or recurrent glioblastoma in a single arm trial, 7 were excluded based on study criteria. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS) following the first diagnosis of tumor recurrence or progression. Median OS was 13.4 months, substantially greater than a historical OS of 6.2 months.
    The trial also had a secondary endpoint of overall survival from the time of primary diagnosis. On this endpoint, patients treated with NanoTherm had a median OS of 23.2 months compared to 14.6 months in the same reference group.
    Now that it has been approved in the EU, MagForce is initiating a staged launch of NanoTherm, beginning with Germany in Q1 2011. The company will be launching with its own sales force in the major European markets. Look for partnerships and licensing agreements as it prepares for the US, Japan, and other geographic areas.
    Aside from glioblastoma, NanoTherm is also being tested in other solid tumors including: prostate, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers. But glioblastoma alone offers a significant opportunity due to a lack of good treatment options.
    MagForce is a somewhat different business compared to other biotechs. For one thing, its cancer therapeutic is not a drug; rather, it is classified as a medical device. The company is also the maker of the oscillating magnetic field generator, NanoApplicator, used for performing the procedure and is in the final stages of developing software designed to assist the treating physician during planning and execution. In my view, this combination makes for a very compelling story and nicely differentiates the company from the crowded oncology field.
    MagForce raised $32 million during the Q2 2010. Its current market cap is about $136 million. (Based on most recent exchange rates)   

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
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