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Company Gains Ultrasound-Linked Drug Capsule Technology

DNA bubbles illustration

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.

21 Aug. 2023. A company developing a drug delivery process with treatments activated by ultrasound received an option to license a key technology from its founders’ university labs. Suono Bio in Foxborough, Massachusetts says it has an exclusive option to license techniques devised for an oral capsule that responds to ultrasound for delivering nucleic acids, biologics, and other drugs to the lower digestive tract.

Suono Bio is a six year-old enterprise founded by biomedical engineering researchers at Mass. Institute of Technology to improve delivery of many treatments considered difficult to deliver through conventional means. The company’s founders, Robert Langer and Giovanni Traverso at MIT, study materials science, chemistry, and physiology for drug delivery, particularly for extending release of drugs over longer periods and delivering drug cargoes to the gut, a difficult region to reach because of stomach acids that can affect normal oral drugs.

The Suono Bio process uses focused ultrasound to create pressure variations that cause cavities to form in liquids. Those cavities fill with gases or vapors from the liquid that subsequently implode. When applied to therapies, such as biologic drugs or nucleic acids like messenger RNA, pressure variations can drive a therapy into the tissue lining the gut or other targets, where it penetrates into the tissue. In this case, ingestible capsules designed to survive the rigors of the digestive tract carry the active ingredients, where the capsule adjoins the mucous layer of the lower digestive tract, for activation by ultrasound to release the contents into gut tissue.

Safe and well tolerated with no adverse effects

Suono Bio says its preclinical studies demonstrate the feasibility of the process, including delivery of insulin that usually requires injections into live pigs. The company says that process can deliver a wide range of drug compounds, biologics, and nucleic acids. In July 2023, Suono Bio released results of tests of its lead product called SuonoCalm, given as a rectal suspension in an enema, then activated by ultrasound for treating ulcerative colitis, among healthy volunteers. The findings — not yet peer-reviewed — from tissue and blood samples, says the company, show the treatments are safe and well tolerated with no adverse effects.

The technology optioned from MIT applies to oral capsules activated by ultrasound for delivery of therapeutic cargoes into the lower digestive tract. An option to license gives a licensee an exclusive right to negotiate and enter into a long-term agreement with the inventor or owner. Details of the agreement with MIT, including financial terms, are not disclosed.

Suono Bio CEO Scott Kellogg says the process for ultrasound-activated ingested capsules will help the company expand its drug delivery options. “This agreement will allow us to expand our oral drug delivery program,” says Kellogg in a company statement released through BusinessWire, “with the potential to reach across a variety of potential indications.” Kellogg adds, “We have the distinct capacity to modulate where we deliver drug to, including intracellularly, which allows us to take a per-indication or asset approach to develop a new, broad range of oral therapeutics that could be utilized across a range of potential therapeutic solutions.”

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