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Start-Up Licensing Biologic Delivery Nanoparticles

Pharmacy lab

(University at Buffalo)

8 April 2016. A start-up enterprise is licensing research from a university pharmacy lab that harnesses nanoscale particles to boost the performance of biologic therapies. Financial details of the agreement between Zoetic Pharmaceuticals in Amherst, New York and University at Buffalo were not disclosed.

Biologic therapies are synthetic proteins derived from living systems, such as microbes or organism cells, often with engineered DNA molecules in human genes. Biologics, however, face obstacles from antibodies that react to their presence, creating immune reactions and thus complications for patients. This can be a particular problem for biologics given to treat autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system is tricked into attacking healthy cells.

Zoetic Pharmaceuticals is developing a technology platform for delivery of biologics that addresses these immune system issues. That platform is based on and licensed from research by Buffalo pharmacy professor Sathy Balu-Iyer, who studies actions of protein therapies in the body. Among Balu-Iyer’s discoveries are drug delivery techniques harnessing lipids, natural insoluble oil or fat substances, as nanoscale particles to carry the active biologic ingredients.

Balu-Iyer and colleagues tested the technology on lab mice induced with hemophilia A, an inherited disorder where a clotting protein known as factor-8 is missing, causing excessive bleeding. Treatments to replace factor-8 proteins are often hampered by their short live duration in the body, as well as generation of antibodies and immune reactions. The findings show lipid nanoparticles carrying factor-8, however, extend its circulation in the test mice and reduce immune reactions. The study also showed through simulations the process can be scaled up for humans.

The technology can be applied as well to gene therapies, where healthy genes are inserted into an individual’s genome to replace missing or defective genes, similar to hemophilia A. Like biologic treatments, gene therapies can also trigger an immune reaction, and the lipid nanoparticles can shield the replacement genes from those reactions.

Zoetic was founded in November 2014 by life sciences and pharma industry veterans John Seman and Sven Beushausen, now president and chief scientist respectively. Balu-Iyer is a scientific adviser to Zoetic. The company is located at Baird Research Park, the university’s technology and business incubator site.

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