The EPFL Laboratory of Biomaterials for Immunoengineering, headed by Prof. Li Tang, and the Bioark-hosted startup company Novochizol SA possessing a unique chitosan transformation technology, today announced that Innosuisse will co-fund their collaborative research aimed at improving the safety and efficacy of immune therapies against solid cancers. The three-year project, budgeted at CHF 1.1 Mio, of which CHF 498,000 are covered by the Innosuisse Grant, will focus on the capacity of Novochizol nanoparticles to safely deliver high doses of cancer-fighting cytokines and immune checkpoint inhibitors inside tumors.
Enhanced protection of active ingredients and efficient intratumoral delivery
Cytokines, such as Interleukin-2, have the capacity to activate strong cancer-fighting immunity, but effective doses within tumor tissues cannot be reached with injections of free cytokines because of their very short half-life in the blood and systemic, life-threatening toxicities. Novochizol - formulated cytokines address both limitations: the active ingredient is protected from degradation and the formulations strongly adhere to tissues at the site of administration, without any systemic diffusion. In addition to their therapeutic potential in monotherapies, cytokines may also prime immunologically-deficient tumors to become responsive to immune checkpoint inhibitors, which may eventually help render immunotherapy effective for non-responding patients, which are still a majority.
Novochizol-mediated drug delivery to find applications in oncology and other therapeutic domains
By participating in this project, Novochizol SA will be in the position to qualify its nanoparticles as the first chitosan excipient approved for pharmaceutical use not only in oncology, but for all medical conditions where a drug needs to be delivered locally to the diseased tissue, without systemic distribution. A Novochizol-based drug delivery system may thus support a number of third-party drug development projects, benefiting the entire pharma ecosystem as a whole and millions of patients worldwide