Bayer Schering Pharma enhances research in cancer imaging

The Bayer GroupBayer Schering Pharma AG and Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., Japan have signed a licensing agreement for the use of novel substances in the field of molecular imaging for cancer. Within the agreement, Bayer Schering Pharma acquires the worldwide exclusive rights for research, development and commercialization of a group of molecules that specifically bind to malignant tumor cells. In combination with positron emission tomography (PET), these tracers could potentially improve the diagnosis of a variety of cancers.

"This agreement allows us to ideally expand our existing molecular imaging portfolio in the area of cancer", explained Prof. Dr. Hans Maier, head of Bayer Schering Pharma's business unit Diagnostic Imaging. "The medical need for a more specific diagnosis of malignant tumors is very high, and we anticipate to further improve the early diagnosis of certain cancers with these substances in the long run."

"We have developed the novel tumor PET tracer based on a substance to be incorporated into tumor cells through the carrier molecules highly expressed on the tumor cell membrane. Since the chemical structure of this PET tracer is designed not to be identified by the carrier system on the normal cell membrane, the location of tumor tissue could be detected with high contrast in tumor animal models with PET. This development is an example for our expertise in PET technology accumulated in our company", said Dr. Hideo Tsukada, manager of the PET Center at Hamamatsu Photonics.

The tracers are labeled with a short-life radionuclide and thus can be employed for PET imaging. PET is a nuclear medicine imaging procedure, with which molecular processes can be visualized in vivo, for example those in tumor cells. In contrast to the presently common procedures in PET imaging of cancer, these new PET tracers could help to possibly better differentiate malignant tumors from benign tissue alterations and to allow a more precise staging of the cancer.

About cancer diagnosis
In the western world, cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. According to the WHO, 15 million people will be newly diagnosed with cancer by 2020. This would imply an increase in the incidence rate by 50% compared to the year 2000. The diagnosis and especially the accurate staging of the tumor expansion play a decisive role for prognosis and therefore therapy decision. The understanding of the various mechanisms of cancer grows steadily. It is known that there are differences in the metabolism and growth regulation between cancerous cells and normal cells. This can be diagnostically used for a targeted detection of tumors.

To date, the most established tracer in the field of PET for staging of malignant tumors, e.g. lung cancer, is a sugar tagged with radioactive fluorine, the so called F18-desoxy glucose, abbreviated FDG. This sugar is particularly taken up by fast growing cells and used in metabolic processes. It allows the detection of tumor cells but also other proliferating and metabolically active cells of the tissue via PET imaging. However, the differentiation between malignant tumor cells and other (benign) alterations of the tissue is limited. Tracer molecules which mainly target tumor cells could allow a more specific diagnosis and more precise staging of cancer in the future.

Molecular imaging at Bayer Schering Pharma
Molecular imaging comprises diagnostic procedures that in particular allow the detection of early disease stages on a cellular and molecular level, potentially even before they become clinically manifest. Such procedures are expected to provide not only earlier but also more accurate detection of, for example, tumors and central nervous system disorders. In the field of molecular imaging, Bayer Schering Pharma is pursuing promising approaches with innovative carrier molecules that bind specifically to certain cell structures. This will facilitate the development of procedures for visualizing disease-specific biological processes on a molecular level.

The diagnosis of neurodegenerative, oncological and cardiovascular diseases is the company's main focus of research. Bayer Schering Pharma maintains various research cooperations in the field of molecular imaging, amongst others with Stanford University as well as ETH Zurich and Nagasaki University.

About Bayer Schering Pharma
The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The pharmaceuticals business operates under the name Bayer Schering Pharma AG.

Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Find more information at

Bayer Schering Pharma is a worldwide leading specialty pharmaceutical company. Its research and business activities are focused on the following areas: Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Specialty Medicine and Women's Healthcare. With innovative products, Bayer Schering Pharma aims for leading positions in specialized markets worldwide. Using new ideas, Bayer Schering Pharma aims to make a contribution to medical progress and strives to improve the quality of life. Find more information at