October 20, 2011
Center for Nanosciences, Kochi
The Amrita Center for Nanosciences in Kochi crossed a major milestone recently when a nanomedicine developed by the Center was licensed for commercial production to a nanopharmaceutical firm.
“This is our first nanomedicine to be licensed to the European pharma industry for production and pre-clinical and clinical trials,” proudly stated Dr. Shantikumar Nair, Director of the Center.
The nanomedicine will be used for treatment of cancer by photodynamic therapy.
A promising laser assisted treatment modality for curing many forms of cancer, photodynamic therapy or PDT involves the injection of a photosensitive drug into the patient’s body. After the accumulation of the drug in the tumor, laser light is focused on to the tumor, resulting in either necrosis (immediate cell death) or apoptosis (cells get damaged and eventually die).
However, a major challenge with conventional PDT is the non-specific accumulation of the photosensitive drug molecules in non-malignant regions, leading to collateral phototoxicity.
It is this challenge that Amrita’s new and soon-to-be-commercialized nano-photomedicine will address. The novel nanomedicine can specifically target and destroy tumor cells under laser irradiation.
The research work was led by Amrita’s Dr. Manzoor Koyakutty, during his tenure at the Erasmus Medical University in Netherlands, as part of the Marie–Curie International Incoming Fellowship Program supported by the European Commission.
“These targeted nano-photomedicines can identify cancerous cells specifically by detecting characteristic bio-markers, and they accumulate only in the tumor cells, thereby sparing healthy cells and tissue from damage during laser therapy,” explained Dr. Manzoor.
An international patent has been filed for the new nano-photomedicine.
The commercialization of this nano medicine will be led by M/S Nano4therapy, a nano-pharmaceutical company based in Netherlands.
Recently Nano4therapy’s CEO, Dr. Ivo Timmermans was in Amrita to sign the licensing agreement. He was accompanied by a team of scientists including Prof. Dick Sterenborg, Head of Centre for Optical Diagnosis and Therapy (CEDOT), Dr. Dominic Robinson, Assistant Professor, CEDOT.
“This is a major development for our Center,” stated Dr. Shantikumar Nair.
“We look forward to making available many more advanced cancer nanomedicine formulations that are under development at ACNS for licensing and translation into clinical applications,” he added.