A Japanese firm announced this week that it has developed a biodegradable polymer based drug delivery system that could significantly improve the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs and reduce drug development costs.
Nitto Denko Technical Corporation (NDT), the US subsidiary of Nitto Denko Corporation, says its novel drug delivery technology platform uses a biodegradable and biocompatible polymer material which can be loaded with therapeutic agents.
According to the company, the polymeric carrier can greatly enhance the solubility of a drug and efficiently deliver the therapeutic agents to target tissues, whilst also reducing side effects commonly experienced with existing drugs.
The firm says that this new drug delivery technology platform could reopen potential therapeutic avenues using drugs whose development had been terminated due to high toxicity or poor solubility, as well as offering significant cost savings.
"It is well known that the costs associated with the development of new drugs are extremely high, while in contrast, the chance of successful progress through clinical trials is relatively low," explains NDT.
"If linked to promising compounds that have not successfully completed clinical trials, the [polymer-based carrier] may offer the potential to increase efficacy and safety as well as offering opportunities for successful new drugs to reach the market."
"In this way, it is expected that it may contribute to significant reductions in the time and cost associated with bringing new drug candidates through product development."
With the average cost of developing a marketed pharmaceutical product coming in at around $802m (611m), but with the potential to rocket up to $2bn for some drug candidates, any means of reducing development costs could be an attractive consideration for pharmaceutical companies.
NDT's polymer-based carrier has the potential to be applied for use with a range of compounds treating a variety of diseases, but thus far the company has focused primarily on cancer treatments, collaborating with the Moores Cancer Centre of the University of California, San Diego.
"Cancer drug delivery is no longer simply wrapping up cancer drugs in a new formulation for different routes of delivery," says NDT.
"Cancer chemotherapy, in particular for recurrent and metastasis disease, has had limited therapeutic effect due mostly to the inherently toxic nature of conventional anticancer drugs, with the most common side effect caused by dose-dependent toxicity. It has been reported that more than 40 per cent of anticancer drugs being developed show aqueous solubility problems, which severely affects the cancer drug performance."
NDT says that its polymer synthesis expertise have enabled the company to develop a system that can overcome these difficulties. The firm has created a biodegradable, hydrophilic material that can be used with traditional therapeutic agents and thus greatly improve solubility of the drug.
In addition to this, the firm points out that most compounds used as therapeutic agents are comprised of very small particles whereas combining them with the polymeric carrier increases the particle size to 100nm. According to NDT, this will allow the treatment to remain in the bloodstream for a longer period of time thus increasing therapeutic efficacy, and will also reduce side effects by preventing migration of the drug to normal tissues.
The research team at the company carried out animal tests to establish the efficacy of the polymeric carrier, using a chemotherapy drug in a single cancer model. The findings from the trials were very promising, with the carrier-based drug delivery resulting in nine times more drug found in plasma and 17 times more in tumour tissue when compared to free drug delivery.
In light of the potential applications and benefits the drug delivery system could offer, NDT plans to invest in further research beyond this initial stage to investigate the carrier's efficacy with a wide range of drugs in multiple disease models.
Source: Bio-Bio Technology