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Patent Awarded for Safer Cancer Drug Delivery

Chemotherapy vials

(National Cancer Institute)

18 June 2021. A pharmaceutical R&D company is receiving a patent for its process that encapsulates and better targets chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week awarded patent number 11,033,520 titled Liposomal Anticancer Compositions to four inventors at Irisys LLC in San Diego.

Irisys provides drug development and manufacturing services to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Among its specialties, says the company, is novel drug delivery techniques, including micro- and nanoscale formulations, as well as encapsulation of drug payloads in liposomes, or tiny natural oil bubbles, the same substance as cell membranes. Liposomes have two layers to protect their payloads, and can be enhanced to perform in various chemical environments. For chemotherapy delivery, according to the patent, lipids outweigh the anticancer payloads by a factor of 20:1 to 100:1.

The patent outlines the company’s technology for packaging chemotherapy drugs in liposomes for what the inventors say is a safer method for delivering chemotherapies to patients. Chemotherapy drugs are usually given systemically as infusions, and while they’re designed to kill solid tumor cells, they often have adverse off-target effects, resulting in symptoms like severe nausea and hair loss.

Detailed chemical formulations of liposomes

The patent describes different chemical formulations of liposomes and salts to enable chemotherapy delivery directly to the tumor. The company says these different formulations make it possible to adjust liposomes’ chemistries to release their payloads in more acidic tumor environments, instead of the more neutral acid/base composition of healthy tissue. To achieve this objective, the patent lists specific detailed chemical formulations of liposomes with varying concentrations of lipid materials and additives regulating pH levels to work in different acidic environments.

In addition, the patent lists three chemotherapy drugs as liposome payloads: doxorubicin, irinotecan, and mitoxantrone or combinations of these drugs. Irinotecan is given for colon or rectal cancer, while doxorubicin and mitoxantrone are prescribed for a number solid tumor and blood-related cancers. And the patent outlines methods for preparing the anticancer payloads and liposome suspensions before administering the treatment.

The patent lists as its inventors Irisys CEO and founder Gerald Yakatan, company president Robert Giannini, vice-president for manufacturing and pharmaceutical development Igor Nikoulin, and senior scientist Yevgeniya Plekhov. “The issuance of a United States patent on the liposomal drug delivery system developed at IRISYS is consequential for several reasons,” says Yakatan in an Irisys statement released through Cision, noting “the potential for the delivery system to improve the safety and efficacy of cancer therapeutics is the most important and most obvious reason.”

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