Drug Delivery: Moving from Platform to Product
This article was originally published in Start Up
The traditional drug-delivery business model of service for hire has fallen from popularity. Big Pharmas are doing few deals of this sort, and investors want bigger returns than fees and royalties can provide. Start-ups with drug delivery technologies are increasingly using their platforms on their own behalf, to create products they can out-license or possibly market themselves. Now content--getting the molecules to be delivered--is an issue.
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Carigent Therapeutics' novel nanoparticle targeted drug delivery technology allows for controlled release of therapeutic agents, targeting drugs to a particular physiological site, tethering of surface ligands, and the ability to combine multiple agents--like imaging agents and drugs--into one vehicle. The foundation of the platform is an FDA-approved biocompatible and biodegradable polymer material, PLGA, which is made into particles at the nano- or micro-scale depending on the application.
PharmaKodex, a joint venture of Vectura Group and Unilever Ventures, is developing oral and dermal delivery systems that improve availability, thus improving drug response time and activity, leading to greater patient acceptance. The company is adding a twist to the standard low-risk reformulation model now ubiquitous in the specialty pharma world; it intends to use its technologies to develop OTC drugs that will hit market faster and bring in revenue to fund prescription drug development.
In the early part of this decade, Shire Laboratories was the engine that drove much of Shire PLC's success. The drug delivery unit, which specialized in oral formulations, played a key role in developing many of Shire's top products. Those technologies, as well as existing partnerships, now reside at Supernus Pharmaceuticals, which intends to turn Shire's former drug delivery business into a fully integrated, CNS-focused specialty pharmaceuticals firm.