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discovered 02_2012

COLLABORATIONS// The HZDR Research Magazine WWW.Hzdr.DE 50 51 In the planning of optimal therapies for cancers such as breast cancer or malignant melanoma, it is critical to know whether or not the cancer has spread, or metastasized, to the lymph nodes. Today, Sentinel Lymph Node Scintigraphy, a very promising diagnostic tool, which has fast become standard in all nuclear medicine facilities, can be used for scanning lymph nodes for potential metastases. In the context of a collaborative research project with funding provided by the Free State of Saxony, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and ROTOP Pharmaka AG scientists have jointly developed novel radioactively labeled particles for use as a diagnostic tool. The findings from this research have resulted in the development of the recently approved new drug “NANOTOP,” which is manufactured and marketed by ROTOP. The drug provides important information about the location of what are called “sentinel lymph nodes” that lie immediately beyond the location of the primary tumor. Following scintigraphy, the nodes are examined to help determine whether or not they contain potential cancer cells that have metastasized from the primary tumor site. Based on this information, doctors are able to make informed decisions regarding the scope of the surgery to be performed. HZDR and ROTOP are able to look back on several years of a fruitful partnership that has yielded a number of successful research projects. In fact, one of the current projects has set out to answer questions about a major common disease. Since 2010, the company, with its more than 40 employees, has been located in a new office and production building on the Helmholtz center campus. In only a very short amount of time, ROTOP, which was founded back in 2000, has managed to distinguish itself both in Germany and beyond through the design and manufacture of different substances for use in nuclear medicine. But although, admittedly, we are talking about a niche market here, at this point, ROTOP is already very successfully marketing its product line (which currently consists of ten products) throughout Europe with plans of entering into the US market in the not-too-distant future. Says ROTOP CEO Monika Johannsen: “Our recipe for success sounds rather simple because our focus has been on becoming a consistently reliable partner for nuclear medicine facilities. Our products are manufactured using highly sophisticated technology and so far we haven’t had any complaints.” Which is important since the new drug “NANOTOP,” for example, is used pre-surgery for Sentinel Lymph Node Scintigraphy in breast cancer at nearly all of Germany’s breast centers. The ROTOP recipe for success seems to be panning out rather nicely since the company is currently planning its expansion by building additional cleanrooms for the production of kits that are based on non-radioactive substances. Not until immediately prior to their clinical application in nuclear medicine are the little vials filled with a white “powder” actually transformed into radioactive drugs for use in the diagnosis of different diseases. But ROTOP is also in the business of marketing drugs that are produced at HZDR’s Institute of Radiopharmacy, like, for instance, the approved “GlucoRos” – a drug based on a specific glucose molecule that is labeled with a short- lived radionuclide and with whose help tumors can be both diagnosed and studied, and “NaFRos” – a drug used to detect bone metastases. The Institute’s Director, Jörg Steinbach, is very happy about that: “Thanks to this collaboration, the center is able to not only secure additional research grants but also to very quickly turn the actual research findings into direct benefits to the patient.” ON CAMPUS: ROTOP Pharmaka AG office building. Image credit: ROTOP Contact _Institute of Radiopharmacy at HZDR As of 2013: Institute of Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research at HZDR Prof. Jörg Steinbach _ROTOP Pharmaka AG Executive Assistant Anne Wloch