Zambon unit licenses drug-delivery microdevice from UCSF

Italian pharmaceutical dollars are now behind a microdevice engineered to carry medicines directly to the gut. Zcube, a venture arm of the Bresso, Italy-based pharma Zambon, has inked a deal with the University of California, San Francisco that supports the research and gives it an exclusive license to the microdevice for delivering treatments for diseases such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

The pact includes a two-year agreement to support research in the UCSF lab of Tejal Desai--where the device has been under development--to find ways of delivering drugs directly into the colon and small intestine. Zcube has also agreed to provide unspecified milestone payments related to the commercialization of the microdevice.

The microdevice has the potential to reduce the total amount of active drug that a patient needs to take by delivering medicines directly to the organ of interest. The university described the device or patch as something that "resembles a tiny, square Band-Aid with reservoirs in the middle for medication." The idea is to pack hundreds of these microscopic patches into a pill. After a patient swallows the pill, the microdevices would be released from it and attach to the intestinal tract. The devices would then deliver medicine into the intestinal lining. Afterward, the devices themselves are supposed to dissolve.

Zcube appears to be a group to follow for people involved in drug delivery. The group, formed in 2003, says it scouts for and supports the validation of drug delivery systems. In May 2009, for example, Zcube licensed a nanotechnology drug delivery technology for pain medications from the tech transfer group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

- here's the UCSF release