Start-up to develop arthritis molecular imaging agent

U.K. life sciences developer Serac Life Sciences has established a new company, Serac Healthcare, to develop a molecular imaging agent that will help rheumatologists manage treatment for their arthritis patients.

Serac Healthcare has acquired the molecular imaging agent maraciclatide from GE Healthcare. Serac will develop the agent to enable rheumatologists to image disease activity in the joints.

Maraciclatide binds to a protein, αVβ3 integrin, that is common in joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis but not in healthy ones, the company said. It has been linked to a technetium-99m radioisotope for imaging with planar, SPECT, and SPECT/CT nuclear medicine systems.

Serac said that results of preliminary clinical trials with maraciclatide are "extremely encouraging," and the company plans to complete further studies in rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions in which αVβ3 integrin is overexpressed. These include psoriatic arthritis, enthesitis, ankylosing spondylitis, tumors, inflammatory cardiovascular conditions, and cardiac remodeling.

Serac intends to seek worldwide regulatory approvals for maraciclatide.

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