Findings presented at the 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer show that VGT-309 improves surgeons’ ability to see tumors in real time during minimally invasive and robotic procedures

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, USA I September 11, 2023 I Vergent Bioscience, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing tumor-targeted imaging agents, and its wholly owned subsidiary Vergent Bioscience Australia Pty Ltd, announced that new data presented at the IASLC 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer (#WCLC23) suggest the company’s tumor-targeted fluorescent imaging agent is active and can safely be used to detect tumor tissue in the lung with high accuracy. Findings from the Phase 2 surgical study evaluating VGT-309 suggest the investigational agent could improve surgeons’ ability to see difficult-to-find and previously undetected tumors in real time to help optimize patient outcomes.

“The widespread adoption of minimally invasive lung cancer surgery, coupled with increasing numbers of small tumors being detected, have made it much more challenging for surgeons to see all tumor tissue during surgery,” said Gavin M. Wright, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Surgical Oncology, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. “The findings from our study confirm that VGT-309 could enhance the success of minimally invasive surgery by improving tumor visualization and reducing the potential for cancer to be left behind.”

The Phase 2 study evaluated the safety and efficacy of VGT-309 in 27 individuals with suspected or proven cancer in the lung who were eligible for surgery. Each patient in the study received a VGT-309 infusion on the day prior to or day of surgery. Following an attempt to identify each tumor using standard surgical techniques, researchers used a commercially available near-infrared (NIR) endoscope to assess the lung for the presence of any additional tumor tissue, which was then confirmed by pathology.

The study findings presented today at the WCLC23 provide compelling evidence that VGT-309 has a high affinity for malignant tissue in the lung, increasing the potential that surgeons can identify all tumor tissue during surgery. Of the 27 participants, 23 had confirmed cancer, one had typical carcinoid, and three had non-neoplastic processes. The following tumor types were visualized intraoperatively with VGT-309 and NIR imaging: non-small cell lung cancer (adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), metastatic carcinoma with breast origin, and high-grade sarcoma of epithelioid morphology. In two patients, VGT-309 identified tumor tissue in lymph nodes that was pathologically confirmed to be cancer, resulting in upstaging that could potentially impact patient treatment and outcomes.

VGT-309 appeared to be safe and well tolerated across all dose levels studied, with no infusion reactions and only one patient experiencing a serious adverse event – a transient elevated liver-function test that resolved without intervention.

“This study provides encouraging results demonstrating the clinical performance of VGT-309, including the breadth of tumors the agent can help surgeons visualize and its corresponding potential to enhance outcomes from minimally invasive surgery,” said John Santini, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Vergent Bioscience. “We look forward to expanding on these results in future studies including our upcoming multi-center Phase 2 clinical trial.”

About VGT-309

VGT-309 is a tumor-targeted imaging agent designed to enable a complete product solution for optimal tumor visualization during open, MIS, 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 provides 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 agent designed to enable surgeons to see difficult-to-find or previously undetected tumors in real-time during surgery, ensuring 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

SOURCE: Vergent Bioscience