January 1, 1970 (Vol. , No. )

Susan Aldridge, Ph.D.

An interesting deal announced here is between Malaysian drug delivery company SIOGEN Biotech and Grampian Bioconsultants Ltd, a recent spinout from Aberdeen University with a focus on immunotherapy and cancer. SIOGEN was voted the most innovative biotech startup in the Asia Pacific region for 2009. The company’s Designer Siosomes ® are liposome-like nanoparticles based upon silicon. Grampian will couple antibodies onto the surface of the Siosomes for more accurate delivery into tissues like lung and heart. SIOGEN Exec Chairman Zoser Salama thinks Siosomes could be especially relevant for glyco-based drugs. ‘Cancer needs sugar,’ as he puts it, envisaging a new generation of glyco drugs targeting the cancer cell, maybe delivered in or on a Siosome. An added bonus is that the Siosome platform can provide IP protection to otherwise hard-to-patent compounds like herbal remedies and biosimilars. Talking of which, Guo-Liang Yu of Epitomics believes their unique humanized rabbit-based antibodies are the way to making not biosimilars, but ‘biobetters’ – more potent, less toxic and a good deal for patients and providers.

Another drug delivery company here is Pantec Biosolutions whose laser-powered P.L.E.A.S.E (Painless Laser Epidermal System) needle-free drug delivery system is being applied to delivery of fertility drugs. Are they looking at the holy grail of insulin? Not at the moment, says CEO Christof Böhler, because smaller devices are preferred for diabetes management. But Pantec will be making their system more compact which could open up the potential applications. Pantec, by the way, is practically the only biotech in Liechtenstein, the smallest country at BIO-Europe. It may be small, but it’s highly entrepreneurial, but companies tend to rely on neighboring countries for the finance to help them grow.

In another announcement, Dutch company InteRNA and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they’ll collaborate on the role of microRNAs in cancer pathways. Luca Rastelli, who is responsible for search and evaluation in oncology for EMD Serono says microRNA is a category they’d do a deal on – if there were proof of concept and a delivery system. And a biomarker plan is a must for any deal on drug development – but most pharmas would say that these days.

Susan Aldridge is a freelance writer for GEN.

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