Avelas Biosciences: Detecting Cancer in Real-Time

Avelas Biosciences, a California-based clinical-stage oncology company, is developing AVB-620, a novel drug-device combination product for use during cancer surgery. AVB-620 works to improve surgery by detecting cancer in real-time and has the potential to become part of standard-of-care treatment for many different cancer surgeries. AVB-620 has been developed from technology that originates in the lab of Nobel Laureate Roger Y. Tsien at the University of California – San Diego. It is currently in a registration trial for detecting positive margins during breast cancer surgery.

According to the company’s website, the initial motivation behind the invention was to enable systemic delivery of cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) and attached cargo to cancer cells. Avelas has utilized this approach by designing AVB-620 to deliver a fluorescent marker specifically to cancer cells for real-time cancer detection during surgery.This approach involves activatable CPPs (ACPPs) which exploit cancer’s inherent biochemical pathology using enzyme activation to selectively deliver imaging cargo to target tissue. Protease enzymes associated with cancers activate the ACPP molecules, allowing the cargo to be delivered locally to malignant cells. In the case of AVB-620, the novel peptide is cut by a subset of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) on cancer cells’ surface. This cleavage activity results in the unmasking of the molecule’s CPP and is also accompanied by a fluorescent color change. The CPP enters the surrounding cancer cells where it emits at this new wavelength. Avelas’ differentiated method of imaging measures the ratio of “active” CPP in cancer cells to that of “inactive” AVB-620 in surrounding tissue to provide surgeons an accurate image of cancer margins.

In June 2019, Avelas was selected as a 2019 Showcase company by MedTech Innovator. “We are thrilled and honored to announce Avelas’ selection to the MedTech Innovator 2019 Showcase program,” said Jay Lichter, Chief Executive Officer of Avelas. “The Showcase program is a prestigious opportunity to access key stakeholders across the medtech industry, including potential investors and partners. More importantly, it is a recognition of the burden that women who have to undergo a second breast cancer surgery face and how AVB-620 could positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year.”

For more information on Avelas Biosciences, please visit their website