Vergent Bioscience Initiates Phase 2, Multi-Center VISUALIZE Study Evaluating Efficacy of Tumor-targeted Fluorescent Imaging Agent VGT-309 in Lung Cancer Surgeries

 // News

December 13  

Researchers at six sites in the U.S. and Australia will investigate the agent’s ability to help surgeons see tumors in real time during minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgical procedures

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., December 13, 2023 – Vergent Bioscience, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing tumor-targeted imaging agents, announced that the company has enrolled the first patients in a Phase 2, multi-center study evaluating the efficacy and safety of VGT-309 in patients with cancer in the lung. The international VISUALIZE study will assess the potential of Vergent’s tumor-targeted fluorescent imaging agent to improve the visibility of difficult-to-find and previously undetected tumors during minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgical procedures, and reduce the possibility that cancer is left behind. Investigators at six clinical trial sites in the United States and Australia plan to enroll 100 patients.

The widespread adoption of minimally invasive lung cancer surgery, coupled with increasing detection of small tumors, have made it more challenging for surgeons to see all tumor tissue during surgery. Data from three Phase 1 and 2 clinical studies, including findings presented in September 2023 at the World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC), have yielded favorable data that suggest VGT-309 is active and can safely be used to detect tumor tissue in the lung. 

“We are thrilled to advance VGT-309 to this next stage of clinical development, working with leading thoracic surgeons, academic institutions and large community cancer centers to gather additional evidence regarding its potential utility in lung cancer surgery,” said John Santini, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Vergent Bioscience. “We look forward to sharing the VISUALIZE results as soon as they are available.” 

The Phase 2, multi-center, open-label VISUALIZE study is designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of VGT-309 with near-infrared (NIR) imaging to identify cancer in patients undergoing surgery for proven or suspected cancer in the lung. Each patient in the study will receive VGT-309 as an infusion the day prior to surgery. Following an attempt to identify each tumor using standard surgical techniques, investigators will use a commercially available NIR endoscope with VGT-309 to assess the presence of tumor tissue, which will then be confirmed by pathology. Primary efficacy endpoints include visualization of tumors intraoperatively, surgical margin assessment, and identification of additional cancers or positive lymph nodes that may not have been seen preoperatively. 

“Clinical data to date suggest that VGT-309 highlights tumors that would otherwise not be visible during minimally invasive surgeries,” said Sunil Singhal, M.D., William Maul Measey Professor in Surgical Research at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and principal investigator for the study. “We look forward to expanding on our previous studies to further evaluate this agent and its ability to facilitate the complete removal of tumor during surgery.”

About VGT-309

VGT-309 is a tumor-targeted imaging agent designed to enable a complete product solution for optimal tumor visualization during open, minimally invasive, and robotic-assisted surgical procedures. VGT-309 is delivered to patients by a short infusion several hours before surgery. Invented in Professor Matt Bogyo’s Lab at Stanford University School of Medicine, the molecule binds tightly (i.e., covalently) to cathepsins, a family of proteases that are overexpressed across a broad range of solid tumors. This approach may provide distinct clinical advantages and positions VGT-309 as an ideal tumor-imaging agent. VGT-309’s imaging component is the near infrared (NIR) dye indocyanine green (ICG), which is compatible with all commercially available NIR intraoperative imaging systems that support MIS technologies and is the preferred dye to minimize confounding background autofluorescence. 

About Vergent Bioscience

Vergent Bioscience is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that is helping surgeons realize the full potential of minimally invasive and robotic surgery by significantly improving the visibility of tumors. Vergent’s lead compound, VGT-309, is a tumor-targeted fluorescent imaging agentdesigned to enable surgeons to see difficult-to-find or previously undetected tumors in real-time during surgery, so that they can ensure all tumor tissue is removed. The company is first evaluating VGT-309 for cancer in the lung, with the potential to expand its application to a wide range of solid tumors. Vergent Bioscience is a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn. Vergent Bioscience Australia Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vergent Bioscience. For more information, visit

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