Brainlab and MRI Interventions (Memphis, TN), a company that developed ClearPoint, a live MRI-guided surgical system, have partnered with Tocagen (San Diego, CA) to deliver Toca 511, a substance that is injected into a tumor and that stealthily spreads to other cancer cells nearby. Toca 511 was designed to carry Toca FC, an extended release version of flucytosine, an antimycotic drug.
The plan is to enroll patients in a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of delivering the therapy to aggressive brain cancers including glioblastoma multiforme. The ClearPoint system allows surgeons to precisely position instruments and monitor their movement live under MRI, allowing for near perfect dexterity and immediate review of what tissue the instruments are affecting.
More from the announcement:
Traditionally, delivery of drug therapies to brain tumors has been performed with neuro-navigation, a computer-assisted technology utilized by neurosurgeons that does not provide for direct visualization of drug delivery in real-time. The ClearPoint system, which is in commercial use in the U.S. for a variety of minimally invasive neurosurgery procedures, is designed to allow real-time, direct visualization during neurosurgery. MRI Interventions and Brainlab have partnered to enable neurosurgeons to visualize local drug delivery to the brain and central nervous system using the ClearPoint platform.
Toca 511 is a retroviral replicating vector (RRV) that is designed to deliver a cytosine deaminase (CD) gene selectively to cancer cells. After Toca 511 spreads through the tumor, the CD gene in the cancer cells converts the prodrug, flucytosine, into the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU).
Under this new alliance, at selected trial centers, neurosurgeons participating in the Tocagen clinical trial plan to use the ClearPoint system to precisely place the drug delivery catheter in the brain tumor and then deliver Toca 511 directly into the tumor while observing this delivery real-time via MRI.
Here’s a video presentation of how the ClearPoint system works: