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New family of biodegradable polymers shows promise for intracellular drug delivery

hope to test polyketals in clinical trials within five years if animal model studies show potential. To date, Pierce has done some testing in mice to treat acute liver failure. He injected polyketal nanoparticles in mice, and the polyketals delivered them to the animals' livers. But researchers don't know yet whether their system can deliver treatment in vivo. The answer to that question is about a year away, Murthy added.

Potential applications of polyketals include the delivery of anti-oxidants to treat acute liver failure in people who have suffered an alcohol or acetaminophen overdose. In these patients, the liver stops functioning because macrophage cells in the liver create reactive oxygen species. One of the treatments is the delivery of superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that essentially detoxifies superoxide.

Other applications include the use of polyketals in any type of protein-based vaccine, Murthy said, adding that researchers have not yet pursued this possibility. Yet another application is protein delivery for a wide range of therapeutics, including insulin delivery for Type 1 diabetics alleviating the need for multiple injections.

In mid-2005, Georgia Tech, Emory and the University of Rochester filed two provisional patent applications on the polyketal drug delivery system. Murthy noted that a Japanese patent filed in 2001 described the same polymerization process, but used it to make photo resists, rather than a drug delivery system.

Researchers have discussed the start up of a biomedical company based on this technology, but first they must have some compelling data from animal studies. If they pursue commercialization, the process could potentially be done within Emtech Bio, an early-stage biosciences business incubator operated by Emory University and Georgia Tech.


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Contact: Jane Sanders
jane.sanders@edi.gatech.edu
404-894-2214
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
27-Mar-2006


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