SkinJect reaches deal with UPitt on skin cancer treatment; gets backing from Velocity

SkinJect, a Pittsburgh-based device company, said it reached a deal with the University of Pittsburgh to license a minimally invasive treatment for common forms of nonmelanoma skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

The agreement covers the company’s SkinJect patch, which is about the size of a thumb and contains dissolvable microneedles that can deliver a chemotherapeutic drug that kills an existing skin cancer. The patch is applied in a physician’s office once a week for three weeks. The microneedles on the patch are less than a millimeter long and dissolve within 15 minutes of application.

The company said it will file an Investigational New Drug application for the device with the FDA either late this year or early next year.

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Additionally, newly formed Velocity Fund Partners, a private equity firm that targets products and healthcare services in the life sciences industry, announced that it made a “significant investment” in SkinJect. The amount of the funding wasn’t disclosed.

“This device has the potential to transform the fields of dermatology and oncology,” Jim Nolan, president and CEO of SkinJect, said in a statement. "Its commercial future is extremely promising."

The device was created by Dr. Louis Falo, who chairs Pittsburgh’s Department of Dermatology, and O. Burak Ozdoganlar, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.  The two are scientific advisers to SkinJect, which is developing the microneedle array.

Recently, researchers at the University of British Columbia and Switzerland’s Paul Scherrer Institut said they developed a microneedle that painlessly measures drugs in a patient’s bloodstream without requiring expensive and invasive blood draws.

Their device is a small, thin patch that is pressed against a patient’s arm during medical treatment. Its minute, needlelike projection measures less than half a millimeter long and doesn’t penetrate the skin like a standard hypodermic needle.

- here’s the SkinJect release
- check out Velocity’s release

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