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In early June 2020 the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), one of the most popular German daily newspapers, published an in-depth article about ITM Isotopen Technologien München AG (ITM). The report, based on an interview with Steffen Schuster, CEO of ITM, can be found in full length here (German). For those of you, who are not fluent in German we have created this summary detailing all key topics in English.
The article titled “Fighting Cancer with Pinpoint Precision” with a brief description of ITM’s mission: the development of Targeted Radionuclide Therapies for various types of difficult to treat cancers such as neuroendocrine tumors, glioblastoma, osteosarcoma and bone metastases, as well as folate receptor alpha positive tumors such as lung, ovarian or breast cancer. In addition to its own production of state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, the author goes on to explain, Garching / Munich based ITM also supplies medical radioisotopes to key players in the pharmaceutical industry and hospitals around the world.
According to the article the future of medicine has long since begun at ITM. The company, which was awarded the German Medical Award in the category “Medical Innovation Product” in 2019 is leading the way in Targeted Radionuclide Therapy: an innovative treatment for otherwise difficult to treat diseases. The principle behind this concept is as simple as it is compelling, the author notes: a radiopharmaceutical which consists of a targeting molecule and a medical radioisotope is injected into a patient’s bloodstream. Via the targeting molecule these compounds bind to tumor specific receptors, where they start releasing their radioisotope payload directly to the tumor cell.
Depending on the radioisotopes’ properties, they can either be used to accurately localize tumors and metastases in the body or alternatively very precisely destroy tumor cells. This treatment concept dubbed Theranostics, due to it serving both diagnostic as well as therapeutic purposes, is what the approximately 200 ITM staff are working on, the article illustrates. For diagnostic purposes, the company produces amongst others Gallium-68, for therapeutic purposes Lutetium-177.
The author further describes how ITM basically has a monopoly on no-carrier-added Lutetium-177. N.c.a. 177Lu is an important therapeutic radioisotope, which is highly sought-after due to its exceptional purity and the resulting fact that therapy centers and hospitals do not have to implement special waste management regimes. The main advantage of Targeted Radionuclide Therapy however is its exceptional tolerability: "The side effects are much less severe than with other therapies," Steffen Schuster, CEO of ITM, is quoted as saying, "for example, people will not lose their hair”. He also emphasizes the advantages of the targeted nature of the treatment: "The highly precise localization of radioactivity ensures that healthy tissue surrounding the target tumor cells is minimally affected." Researchers thus can identify and treat the targeted tumor cells with a very high degree of precision.
The article also highlights the fact that ITM cooperates with hospitals all over the world. The company’s medical radioisotopes are applied under compassionate use and in clinical studies at hospitals worldwide. Due to the short half-life of radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals, delivering on time is a challenging endeavor, but one that ITM excels in according to Schuster: "In 48 hours we can be anywhere in the world, 72 hours to Australia." But delivering the radioisotopes is not a one-way street. ITM works closely with scientists in different countries constantly creating new projects.
Big pharma companies have taken note and are amongst ITM’s largest customers. The article’s author highlights a cooperation with Novartis, which receives no-carrier-added Lutetium-177 from ITM for a prostate drug. The demand for ITM’s radioisotopes is huge. For this reason, the article explains, ITM has rented a 4,500 square meter hall in Neufahrn near Munich, where a further production facility is soon to be opened. "Our goal is to produce no-carrier-added Lutetium-177 for many thousands of patients," the author quotes Steffen Schuster. He sees it as a big advantage that the entire supply chain for the radiopharmaceuticals is in the hands of ITM. "That's what sets us apart from other companies."
The article goes on to explain the importance of the new location at the Garching science campus for ITM, the proximity to the research reactor, the cooperation with the Technical University of Munich, and the adjacency to the airport make it a very business-friendly location. 230 employees are to be brought together there.
The author is impressed by the rapid growth of ITM in recent years, with 90 employees hired in 2019 alone. The beginnings of ITM date back to 2004. The company is privately owned, and according to Steffen Schuster, it is pursuing a strong growth course. Consideration is also being given to establishing a location in another country, the author explains.
The article ends with a reference to one of ITM’s latest big successes: The European Investment Bank recently awarded 40 million euros to the company as part of an investment plan for Europe. Investment Bank Vice President Ambroise Fayolle is quoted as saying that the bank wanted to support and accelerate the development and market introduction of products "that are expected to improve the lives of thousands of patients". And, of course, the money will also help "strengthen Europe's leading position in radiopharmaceutical research and development". Steffen Schuster cites ITM’s passion for its mission to improve the treatment outcome and quality of life of cancer patients by developing innovative, first-class radiopharmaceuticals. According to him, the author closes, the company's approach is considered a promising treatment for many difficult to treat cancers.
About ITM Isotopen Technologien München
ITM Isotopen Technologien München AG is a privately held biotechnology and radiopharmaceutical group of companies dedicated to the development, production and global supply of targeted diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals and radionuclides for use in cancer treatment. Since its foundation in 2004, ITM and its subsidiaries have established GMP manufacturing and a robust global supply network of innovative, first-in-class medical radionuclides and generator platforms for a new generation of targeted cancer diagnostics and therapies. Furthermore, ITM is developing a proprietary portfolio and growing pipeline of targeted treatments in various stages of clinical development, which address a range of cancers such as neuroendocrine tumors and bone metastases. ITM’s main objectives, together with its scientific, medical and industrial collaboration partners worldwide, are to significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients while at the same time reducing side effects and improving health economics through a new generation of Targeted Radionuclide Therapies in Precision Oncology. For more information about ITM, please visit: www.itm.ag
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Phone: +49 89 329 8986 -151
ITM Isotopen Technologien München AG
Executive Board: Steffen Schuster (CEO), Thomas Dürre (CFO) - Supervisory Board: Udo J Vetter (Chairman) - Registered Office: Garching/Munich
Commercial Register 154 944, District Court of Munich - Phone: +49 (0)89 329 8986 600 - Fax: +49 (0)89 329 8986 650 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VAT Number: DE813228901 - Deutsche Bank München - IBAN: DE52680700300022816300 - BIC: DEUTDE6FXXX