Nanocopoeia to Co-Develop Arborescent Block Copolymers for Biomedical Use

Published on June 27, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Following the launch at BIO International in San Diego last week of NanoInterventions, their cardiovascular joint venture partnership, Nanocopoeia and WORLDiscoveries(TM) are pleased to announce their broader agreement to co-develop the biomedical uses of arborescent polyisobutylene-based block copolymers. Nanocopoeia, a drug delivery company specializing in therapeutic coatings for medical devices, will lead the development effort and WORLDiscoveries(TM) will participate as a partner in the market-targeted applications. The agreement includes an exclusive world-wide license, for all biomedical fields of use, for the polymer system that is the subject of US Patent No. 6,747,098 (2004) and nine other international issued patents.

Arborescent polyisobutylene-based block copolymers are branched polymers with unique properties for biomedical use. A major market opportunity is their use as a drug-eluting coating for medical devices such as coronary stents. When applied using Nanocopoeia's proprietary ElectroNanospray(TM) process, the polymer provides a highly controllable matrix for drug delivery and has excellent physical properties. For other applications, such as tissue implants, this family of polymers has many attributes in common with silicone materials but without the need of the additional chemicals that are required to formulate silicone-based devices.

Judit E. Puskas, PhD, P.Eng, led the team at Western that invented the family of polymers based on arborescent polyisobutylene. She held the Bayer/NSERC (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Industrial Research Chair at Western between 1998 and 2003, and is now Professor of Polymer Science at The University of Akron in Ohio. Dr. Puskas commented, "This polymer system has enormous flexibility in the way it can be applied, while remaining totally stable. That, together with the favorable biocompatibility profile of its building blocks, makes it an ideal interface with body tissues." Dr. Puskas will participate in the joint development program.

Nanocopoeia's drug delivery and coating technology uses the proprietary ElectroNanospray(TM) process to apply nanoparticle-based coatings. The unique process, which originated at the University of Minnesota, generates nanoparticles made of drugs and polymers and assembles them into films with controllable delivery.

The National Science Foundation's research funding has played an important role in launching the collaboration. The commercial development of Nanocopoeia's ElectroNanospray(TM) technology for biomedical applications has been supported through multiple SBIR Phase II and supplemental awards from the NSF Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. In the course of that research, the Company's search for novel coating polymer systems led them to Dr. Puskas, resulting in the ongoing productive collaboration. Dr. Puskas' research is supported by the NSF Division of Materials Research.

Nanocopoeia's CEO, Robert A. Hoerr, MD, PhD, said, "Based on our success in working with this polymer system, we believe it will have applicability for a broad range of biomedical uses." He further commented that a first use of the polymer has been as a prototype drug-eluting stent coating based on arborescent polyisobutylene-block-polystyrene (abbreviated arbIBS) used by the joint venture NanoInterventions for its Mouse Stent Model. He continued, "Given the strong interest that NanoInterventions' Mouse Stent Model generated at BIO, we believe the polymer will be a key element in helping us to define next generation of stent-delivered therapies."

NanoInterventions is a joint venture partnership that is launching the first rapid screening model for new coronary stent coatings, using a genetically modified mouse strain with human-like atherosclerosis, a mini- stent, and experimental coatings on the stent. Joint venture partners other than Nanocopoeia and Western include Stentome, LLC, an interventional cardiology company based in Palo Alto, CA, Oxford, UK, and Galway, Ireland, and The Integra Group, a medical research organization based in Brooklyn Park, MN, that provides a full range of preclinical and clinical development services. NanoInterventions was a featured company in the Positively Minnesota pavilion in the BIO International exhibition hall, from June 17-20, 2008.

With annual research expenditures of more than $223 million and an international reputation for success, The University of Western Ontario ranks as one of the top ten research-intensive universities in Canada. Offering Canada's best student experience among its peers, Western and its affiliated research institutes provide a culture that encourages entrepreneurial research and innovation.

WORLDiscoveries(TM) is a joint venture between Lawson Health Research Institute and The University of Western Ontario, including Robarts Research Institute, that capitalizes on the institutions' combined research strengths related to medical and health-related sciences, energy and the environment and new materials. The London region is recognized as a national leader in these key areas, and the city has identified them as opportunities for further growth.

Rob Herold, Associate Director of Western's Industrial Liaison Office, commented, "The innovative structure of our licensing partnership with Nanocopoeia lets us participate in the evolving healthcare applications of this polymer platform. WORLDiscoveries(TM) was structured to enable us work with highly entrepreneurial companies like Nanocopoeia and share in their upside potential, in addition to the standard licensing process that we have traditionally used. We have great confidence both in the technology and in our new partner."

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