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US National Institutes of Health Awards Phase II SBIR Grant to Celsense for Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Using Novel MRI Agent

May 9, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), a branch of the US National Institutes of Health, has awarded Celsense, Inc., a 2-year Phase II SBIR grant to help support a pilot clinical study involving a novel MRI cell tracking imaging agent (“FETRIS”) to visualize autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) administered to patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). HNC is the 6th most common cancer in the US, as measured by new cases.

FETRIS is a next-generation imaging agent invented by Drs. Eric T. Ahrens, Roger Y. Tsien, and Alexander A. Kislukin. The agent was first reported in the journal Nature Materials in March 2016.  Previously, an NIH STTR grant was awarded to Celsense in 2018 for manufacturing scale-up of FETRIS.

The Phase-I clinical study will be conducted at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), in conjunction with the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology. Matching funds for this trial have been provided the Takeda-Sanford Innovation Alliance

The Principal Investigator for the SBIR is Brooke M. Helfer, Ph.D., the Director of Research and Development at Celsense. Additional Investigators include Eric T. Ahrens, Ph.D., Professor of Radiology at UCSD and the Director of Imaging Center at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, and Ezra E. W. Cohen, MD, Professor of Medicine at UCSD and the Associate Director of the Moores Cancer Center.

“We are really excited about this opportunity to work with Drs. Ahrens and Cohen to move this exciting technology into the clinic.  This new composition could represent an important breakthrough in this field, making the technology applicable to cell therapy development in additional disease states,” said Brooke Helfer, Director of R&D at Celsense.

About Celsense
Celsense, Inc. develops and offers novel product that enable the non-invasive imaging of cells in vivo using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The company’s lead product Cell Sense CS-1000 is a patented fluorocarbon tracer agent used to safely and efficiently label cells ex vivo without the use of transfection agents. Cell Sense CS-1000 is the subject of a Drug Master File at US FDA and Health Canada, and is the only clinical grade MRI cell tracking reagent available in North America.  Using software developed by Celsense, investigators can quantify the number of labeled cells in a user-specified region of interest. Celsense’s mission is to be the standard for cellular imaging in human health.

Contact Information:

Charlie O’Hanlon, President and CEO
Celsense, Inc.
(412) 263-2870

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Celsense offers products that enable real-time MRI detection of inflammation and cellular therapeutics. The mission of the company is to be the standard for cellular imaging in human health.

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