Novel Delivery Systems: Polymeric Nanoparticle Companies
At present, there appear to be only two companies actively and openly working on developing a polymeric nanoparticle delivery system for drugs, Cristal Therapeutics and Samyang Biopharmaceuticals Corp. However, public records do not verify whether these projects involve the treatment types of disulfiram, quercetin, dasatinib, or salinomycin. In addition, it appears that BIND Therapeutics was working on polymeric nanoparticle until it filed for bankruptcy in 2016. While most of its assets appear to have been purchased by Pfizer, the current status of BIND's project is unknown.
Below are our findings and a detailed research strategy which explains why the expected minimum of five companies could not be located.
- Based in the Netherlands, Cristal Therapeutics "is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company" which is attempting to develop "the next generation of targeted nanomedicines for improving the treatment of cancer and other diseases."
- The company was founded in 2011 and has raised a total of €23.8 million in venture capital, mostly from grants and an investment round in 2017.
- Cristal is developing a "passively-targeted polymeric nanoparticle"-based drug named CPC634, which is built on Cristal's CriPec nanoparticle technology.
- According to the most recent press release, "CPC634 was specifically designed to overcome the toxic systemic side effects associated with current docetaxel products by enabling enhanced accumulation and ensure sustained release at the tumor site to optimize the therapeutic/safety balance."
- However, we are unable to find references to disulfiram, quercetin, dasatinib, or salinomycin in conjunction with Cristal's nanoparticle technology, and so cannot verify whether this company is a true fit for the criteria.
SAMYANG BIOPHARMACEUTICAL CORP.
- Samyang Biopharmaceuticals Corp. split off from parent company Samyang in 2011 and has been based out of Pangyo Techno Valley since 2016.
- The company is heavily focused on the drug-delivery system (DDS) side of anti-cancer drugs, but also produces a number of other products, including smoking cessation patches and biodegradable surgical sutures.
- Samyang has conducted trials for a polymeric formulation of Docetaxel, but we find no reference connecting this to disulfiram, quercetin, dasatinib, or salinomycin.
- In addition, at the 2018 17th Annual World Preclinical Congress in Boston, Samyang representatives gave a presentation entitled, "Development and Validation of and bDNABased Hybridization Assay and qRT-PCT for the Quantification of Polymeric Nanoparticle." Again, we are unable to directly connect this essay to the four treatment types in the criteria.
BIND THERAPEUTICS / PFIZER
- In a page that has since been taken down but which was archived by Google, AstraZenica mentions collaborating "with BIND Therapeutics for its ACCURINS polymeric nanoparticle technology." However, that partnership appears to have been sundered when Pfizer bought out BIND's assets as part of a bankruptcy deal.
- As there are no references to polymeric nanoparticle technology on Pfizer's page or in its last three annual reports, the status of the technology and whether Pfizer is continuing to develop it is uncertain, as is whether it fits within the requisite treatment types.
- BIND's patent for the process makes no mention of rights being transferred to Pfizer or any other entity; it is possible that the rights are in legal limbo due to the bankruptcy.
We began our research with a broad search for sources linking polymeric nanoparticles with disulfiram, quercetin, dasatinib, and salinomycin. We soon found that the number of research papers on the subject overwhelmed any instances of companies boasting of their treatments. We, therefore, took a roundabout route and sought out research papers which mentioned specific treatments and/or companies offering this type of treatment. Due to the complexity of the papers involved, we pulled multiple sources to verify that the drugs in question do indeed provide polymeric nanoparticle treatment within one of the four specified treatment types. However, this method ultimately provided only a single company, Cristal Therapeutics.
Therefore, we changed strategies. We next went to the Clinical Trials government database and conducted a search for any that included "polymeric nanoparticle" in the description of the trial. This yielded only three results, two of which had been sponsored by the same company, Samyang Biopharmaceuticals Corporation. This proved to be only a possible hit, as explained in the findings above, but which we included due to the dearth of other candidates.
As this fell well short of the project criteria, as a final effort, we pulled a list of nanobiotechnology and nanomedicine companies from NanoWerk. We then conducted a quick search of each company's name in conjunction with the relevant key terms. Due to the need to quickly assess 54 companies while staying within the scope of a single Wonder request, we did not attempt to read the large number of scientific papers that this produced, instead seeking press releases, hits on the actual company websites, patent filings, and/or other news sources. While this did not yield any direct results, following references through Google's patent database led us to a patent by the now-defunct BIND Biosciences, but as explained in our findings, BIND's bankruptcy has put the status of that technology in doubt. Nevertheless, and again due to a dearth of findings, we have included BIND and the primary owner of its assets, Pfizer, in our findings.
Given the sheer number of academic works on this technology that we encountered in our research, it seems incredible that more companies are not working on polymeric nanoparticle treatments. Based on the lack of clinical trials, we hypothesize that any other companies currently working on this technology are not yet at the trial phase and so are playing their cards close to their chests lest they lose a competitive advantage, but could not confirm our hypothesis from records in the public domain.