Established drug delivery companies, start-ups, and academia are advancing nanotechnology in oral, injectable, transdermal, and implantable systems as a means to improve bioavailability for a variety of drugs.
Nanotechnology at work
Baxter Healthcare's "Nanoedge" dispersion technology is another example of a commercial nano-based approach. The particle size is reduced to a nanometer size range to increase the surface area, thereby increasing the rate of dissolution by using two complementary processes, homogenization and precipitation.
pSivida (Perth, Australia), which recently signed a $165-million pact with Pfizer for ophthalmic delivery, owns the right to develop and commercialize "BioSilicon," a nanostructured porous silicon for drug delivery. BioSilicon is composed of elemental silicon that is processed to create a honeycomb structure of pores. These pores can be formed into various shapes and sizes and filled with drugs, including small chemical entities, peptides, and proteins, according to the company. pSivida is targeting the technology for formulating poorly water-soluble drugs and for controlled, slow-release drug delivery.
pSivida's lead product using BioSilicon is "BrachySil," a brachytherapy treatment in Phase II trials, which involves the localized delivery of radioactive agents directly into a tumor. The product is licensed to Beijing Med-Pharm Corp. (Plymouth Meeting, PA).
Insert Therapeutics (Pasadena, CA), a subsidiary of the nanotechnology company Arrowhead Research Corporation (Pasadena, CA), is using a nano-engineered polymeric drug delivery system,"Cyclosert," to deliver small molecules and nucleic acids. The system is based on linear cyclodextrin-containing polymers. Insert Therapeutics is licensing the technology to R&D Biopharmaceuticals GmbH (Planegg, Germany) to deliver the anticancer agent tubulysin A. R&D Biopharmaceuticals recently signed a pact with Insert Therapeutics to use the technology in developing epothilones, microtubule depolymerization inhibitors used as anticancer therapies.