Aegis, Albany Medical College use pregnancy-produced protein against breast cancer

Aegis Therapeutics, a San Diego-based drug-delivery company, is using its Intravail formulation technology to deliver a potential new breast cancer drug in a partnership with Albany Medical College in New York. Intravail technology takes drugs that currently can only be administered by injection and, through absorption-enhancing excipients, makes them available via intranasal and other transmucosal routes.

The drug Intravail will deliver is referred to as AFPep and it is based on a naturally occurring protein of human pregnancy called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). It inhibits the growth of cancer cells more effectively in preclinical studies than does the anti-breast cancer drug tamoxifen, and does not cause the side effects that tamoxifen does, according to a release. Aegis says that its technology is perfect for oral administration of a peptide-based drug like AFPep.

"Scientists at Albany and Aegis believe that the combination of these technologies will make it practical for pharmaceutical companies to move this unique, non-toxic, and highly promising drug forward into human trials," the release says.

One other advantage to Albany's technology, the release says, is that while it has not yet been tested in humans, its effectiveness can be demonstrated through the ancient human trial of pregnancy. "Epidemiologic data show that the full length AFP protein which arises in a mother's bloodstream during pregnancy (and from which AFPep was derived) leads to a reduction of breast cancer incidence throughout life," the release said.

- read the release from Aegis Therapeutics