Novel apoptosis marker

Reference number 4277

Sectors: Biotechnology

Industries: Therapeutics

A novel tracer, 18F-ICMT-11, targeting specific biological processes to improve detection of tumours that are often missed by FDG PET imaging.

Proposed use

18F-ICMT-11 PET imaging can sensitively detect apoptosis, a marker for efficacy in chemotherapy.

Problem addressed

Routine clinical use of PET is based on FDG, a glucose analogue. FDG measures viable cell metabolism. However it lacks specificity and FDG imaging often misses less glycolytic/aggressive tumours. Accordingly, there is a need for tracers targeting specific biological processes and molecular pathways.

Effective anticancer therapy induces tumour cell death through apoptosis. Non-invasive monitoring of apoptosis during therapy may provide predictive outcome information and help tailor treatment. Since a majority of oncology therapies induce apoptosis it could be used as an early and specific signal of therapeutic efficacy.

Technology overview

A team at Imperial College London, led by Eric Aboagye, has developed a novel strategy for the detection of treatment efficacy with 18F-ICMT-11 PET in preclinical models of non-small cell lung carcinoma

The team demonstrated 18F-ICMT-11 is a sensitive marker of chemotherapy-induced cell death in preclinical models of lymphoma, breast and colon cancer. They also showed that apoptotic, but not necrotic response of NSCLC to platinum-based therapy is detectable by 18F-ICMT-11, through sub-nanomolar binding to caspase-3.

18F-ICMT-11 PET has been demostrated to be safe in human patients with a dosimetry profile comparable to other 18F PET tracers.

These results establish 18F-ICMT-11 as a good pharmacodynamic marker of apoptosis and biomarker of efficacy even in the absence of tumour shrinkage.


  • Sensitive marker of chemotherapy-induced cell death
  • Safe and well-tolerated in humans
  • Discriminates between apoptosis and necrotic response to platinum-based chemotherapy

Intellectual property information

The technology is protected by a granted patents in the EU and US



Dr Rachel Spruce

Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Executive, Medicine

Rachel is Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Officer for the Faculty of Medicine.

Contact Rachel

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