Access Pharma uses Trojan Horse to sneak into oral insulin

Access Pharmaceuticals says it has entered into a prelicensing deal with "a major biotech partner," although the Dallas-based company won't say who its partner is nor will it reveal any financial details. And all this stealth sounds a little like the product Access Pharmaceuticals is codeveloping with this unnamed partner.

A common perception about the pharmaceutical industry is that its mad scientists cook up chemicals to put in our bodies that force it to do unnatural things through brute force. But if you look at drug-delivery technologies in the pipeline today, the ones that show the most promise are those that make use of the body's own natural processes. These drugs are typically known as Trojan Horses, since they are most often sneaky little nanoscale devices that trick diseased cells into letting them in, only to spring the medicine on them. Beware of nano-Greeks bearing gifts.

Access Pharmaceuticals, along with this unnamed partner, are testing out a proprietary nanopolymer oral drug called Cobalamin, which is a drug-containing Trojan Horse that hitches a ride on the body's natural vitamin B12 uptake mechanism. Access Pharmaceuticals is testing the product out for oral delivery, rather than injections, of insulin and human growth hormone. Recent tests on the oral Cobalamin-coated nanoparticle containing insulin lowered the blood glucose in an animal model about 80 percent as effectively as an insulin shot. The company says this shows the drug's potential for further development and eventual commercialization.

"We are excited to begin this collaboration for the development of an oral formulation of one of the leading injectable drugs," says David Nowotnik, senior vice president for research and development at Access, in a prepared statement. "We have seen significant oral bioavailability and promise in our previously-developed oral formulations of insulin and believe we can have similar success with many other marketed injectables."

Access currently has one product on the market that takes advantage of its nanopolymer formulation. MuGard is an oral rinse that treats mucositis, a side-effect of cancer treatment. MuGard is available in Europe, has gained market approval in Korea, and the company is ramping up for U.S. sales.

- here's Access Pharmaceuticals' release
- read a release about Cobalamin's preclinical models here
- see a report from Seeking Alpha about MuGard being readied for U.S. sales