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Patent Awarded for Nasal Delivered Cancer Immunotherapy

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (A. Kotok)

30 May 2018. A technology for cancer therapies that harnesses the immune system with nanoscale droplets suspended in an emulsion and delivered through the nose received a U.S. patent. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent number 9,974,844 on 22 May to University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with the rights to the intellectual property already licensed to the company BlueWillow Biologics, also in Ann Arbor.

BlueWillow Biologics is a spin-off enterprise from the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences, led by immunologist James Baker, also the founder of NanoBio Corp. that changed its name to BlueWillow Biologics earlier this month. BlueWillow licenses and commercially develops research on vaccines that trigger antibodies in the mucous membranes. Up to now, the company focused mainly on respiratory and sexually-transmitted diseases, but as reported in Science & Enterprise in April, the company is also testing a vaccine to protect against peanut allergies.

The BlueWillow NanoVax technology produces vaccines as an adjuvant or modifier of the vaccine’s main ingredients. The vaccine’s active biologic ingredients, such as deactivated viruses or synthetic proteins, are formulated as ultrafine droplets, 400 to 500 nanometers across — 1 nanometer equals 1 billion of a meter — suspended in an oil-and-water emulsion. The droplets are sent into the nose, either as a spray or in drops, where immune-presenting cells in mucous membranes deliver the active biologics to antigens that generate an immune response, either in the mucous membranes or throughout the body.

The patent, which lists Baker as one of its inventors, extends that technology to cancer vaccines, given to prevent or treat cancers involving mucous membranes. In this case, the cancer-fighting ingredients are cancer cells deactivated or disrupted by techniques such as ultraviolet radiation, as well as neoantigens, peptides or short chains of amino acids resembling proteins, expressed by cancer patients’ tumors.

The patent lists a number of solid tumor cancers that the vaccines would prevent or treat, but the company highlights tumors in mucous membranes found in the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs as the most likely targets. In addition, BlueWillow says tests in animals show the vaccine reduces the metastasis or spread of colon cancer to the lungs.

In addition to changing its name on 7 May, the company also raised $10 million in its first venture funding round. The financing was led by North Coast Technology Investors, Line Moon Ventures, and the university’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups, or MINTS, program.

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