SBIR Phase II: Near Infrared Substrates for Imaging Autotaxin Activity In Vivo

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Echelon Biosciences, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to further develop ATX-Red, an in vivo imaging agent that becomes fluorescent in the presence of the enzyme autotaxin. Autotaxin and its product LPA are involved in numerous biological functions that generally involve cell movement, and their dysregulation is associated with many diseases including cancer, fibroses, cardiovascular disease, and others. In Phase I ATX-Red generated highly informative images in living organisms, essentially ?lighting up? tumors. In Phase II ATX-Red metabolic stability will be improved and increased performance will be demonstrated. Then ATX-Red will be used to monitor progression and treatment of breast cancer and pulmonary fibrosis in mice. The broader impacts of this research are improvements to basic research, drug discovery, clinical diagnosis and disease treatment, with the ultimate result being an improvement to human health. ATXRed will be an indispensible tool to the many basic research fields associated with autotaxin and LPA, where questions regarding autotaxin in vivo were essentially unanswerable prior to the development of this tool. In addition to its usage in the research arena, ATX-Red will aid development of therapeutics. Currently significant efforts are underway to develop drugs targeting autotaxin pathways. ATX-Red will likely be employed in the extensive in vivo experimentation needed to develop these compounds. Human patients also stands to benefit from this research, since ATX-Red could act as a companion diagnostic for pharmaceuticals targeting diseases associated with autotaxin dysregulation. Further clinical applications might include diagnosing disease and even directing surgical resection of tumors.