Innovative Nanomedicine Developments in Switzerland
Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide with an estimated 14 million new cases reported in 2012. Primary modalities of treatment of cancer include chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Although chemotherapy is commonly used to treat cancer, a toxic effect on the body's healthy cells is observed with most chemotherapy medication. This makes the course of treatment unpleasant and can result in early termination of the therapy.
InnoMedica, a Swiss nanomedicine company led by Dr. Peter Halbherr, is working towards developing a new nanocarrier platform to transport anti-cancer drugs directly to tumours, thereby avoiding the toxic effect of the drug on healthy cells. The platform will deliver existing active agents, initially Doxorubicin, encapsulated in liposomes.
The use of Doxorubicin in liposomes is well established and now off patent, being originally released as Doxil. InnoMedica’s innovative step is to attach glycans to the surface of the liposomes. Glycans are polymers of carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides. As an imitation of the detection system of inflammation sites of the immune system, the patented glycan based targeting quickly brings the drug to the cancer site - resulting in a better efficacy, lower dosage and less side effects.
The team at InnoMedica is developing the targeting platform with a first application called Talidox (Targeted Liposomal Doxorubicin). With the release of this drug, InnoMedica aims to improve cancer treatment of many cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Talidox is now in the preclinical phase; however, research results suggest that cancer patients should have access to Talidox soon.
The Talidox product is developed and produced in the company’s clean room in Marly, Switzerland. One of their first analytical instruments was Izon Science’s qNano. Since last year, researchers at InnoMedica use the qNano to measure the number, size and zeta potential of their liposomes. Unlike dynamic light scattering (DLS), Tunable Resistive Pulse Sensing (TRPS) allows researchers to accurately and simultaneously measure the size and the number of individual liposomes and to provide a real number based distribution. This enables product development and manufacture to be performed with confidence. Pascal Halbherr, InnoMedica’s Production Project Leader said “Getting the qNano into our lab was a turning point and allowed us to be certain about what we were actually producing”.
The full utility of the TRPS particle by particle zeta potential measurement for ongoing product development and manufacture QA is still being assessed and likely to become essential as InnoMedica moves to clinical trials. The cost efficiency of the qNano instrument was also an important influencing factor for InnoMedica when they purchased the instrument.