Companies that Manufacture Medical Isotope Products Look for Success in Developing Their Own Brachytherapy Cancer Treatments
Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (OTC:ADMD), based out of Kennewick, Washington, is one of the few companies producing medical isotopes in the US. Recently the company expanded its production base by forming a strategic partnership with Safety by Design, PC, of Colorado, in collaboration with Colorado State University, to develop medical isotope products that are in high demand and short supply in the Rocky Mountain Region. They also announced that they are developing production processes and procedures to produce isotopes using the 1 megawatt TRIGA Reactor currently operating at the Denver Federal Center. The site is ideal for producing the short-lived radionuclides because it is minutes away from Denver International Airport and two other General Aviation airports. The initial production will focus on a skin cancer product, holmium-166 (Ho-166); then utilizing the same isotope the partnership plans to develop products for the treatment of joint pain, liver cancer, and multiple myeloma. The long term goal, according to ADMD and Safety by Design, is to create an isotope production roadmap for other TRIGA reactor facilities in the United States and expand the breadth of relevant chemical separation methods while evaluating health physics operational procedures for facilities with less sophisticated isotope handling capabilities. This partnership enhances ADMD’s vision of becoming a major supplier of medical isotopes in the US. In May 2010, the company entered into a License Agreement for the patent rights of a radioisotope production using electron beam accelerators creating short lived radioisotopes such as Mo-99 and Tech-99 with the University of Missouri. ADMD is also producing short lived and stable isotopes for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) procedures with a PULSAR Isotope Production system, the first compact linear accelerator (LINAC) in North America designed for the production of medical isotopes used in PET imaging.
Signing the partnership is big news for the little company, but what should peak investors’ interest in ADMD is news that came out of Duke University and its study of an alternative brachytherapy approach by injecting radioactive seeds directly into the body instead of using a catheter to deliver the radioactive material. The doctors, using mice models, injected tumors with a biodegradable elastin-like polypeptide with radioactive iodine, and after only a single administration, the most effective variation shrank tumors in all of the mice regardless of tumor type. It also completely eliminated tumors in two-thirds of the mice with head-and-neck tumors, and all of the mice with prostate tumors. This news should have a positive effect on ADMD because the company has been developing its own internal radiotherapy with its injectable Radiogel cancer treatment. Radiogel utilizes a water-based polymer containing yttrium-90 (Y-90) microspheres that are injected directly into the tumor. Once injected the liquid warms and turns into a gel forming a lattice trapping the Y-90 in injection site. High energy beta particles irradiate the cancer cells with little of the radiation affecting nearby healthy tissue. Radiogel can be injected during a surgical procedure or directly through the skin and can be utilized when a cancer tumor cannot be surgically removed. Though Radiogel technology is in its early stages of development, as the Duke study has shown, injectable brachytherapy could have a major impact on the future methods used to battle various cancers.
ADMD is a $16.22 million market cap company, and though its stock has dipped heavily on Thursday’s trading, it is still up over 68% YTD. With Thursday’s drop ADMD is selling for $0.16 per share, which could be an excellent entry price considering that ADMD now has diversified into two separate markets, though both involving the medical isotopes it produces. With Radiogel and its expanding isotope production base, I like the potential growth of ADMD; and if either proves successful I could see a larger pharmaceutical company show interest in buying the company.