Zcube, Caltech get together for nanotube-needle drug delivery

Zcube, a venture arm of the Bresso, Italy-based pharma Zambon, is continuing its embrace of promising, yet experimental, drug-delivery technology with an exclusive research and option agreement with Caltech researchers developing a patch embedded with carbon nanotubes. The deal follows an agreement in March between Zcube and another California institution, the University of California, San Francisco, to develop a drug-delivering microdevice.

The Caltech deal features the work of principal investigator Mory Gharib, a professor of bioinspired engineering. Gharib has come up with a new way of embedding the tiny tubes into the flexible material where they're grown--one end anchored to the patch and the other end protruding like tiny needles to deliver drugs to the skin.

The advantage of using carbon nanotubes, like other microneedle devices, is that they are pain-free since they are so small and do not hit nerve endings, but can still deliver precise amounts of a drug or vaccine. Nanotube-studded skin patches promise to release drugs quickly, effectively and deeply into the skin without causing pain.

"This innovative technology, based on nanoneedles, will change the administration of drugs through the skin," Lorenzo Pradella, general manager of Zcube, said in a statement. "The exceptional properties of these devices--their mechanical strength, electrical and thermal conductivity, chemical inertness and the way the skin can tolerate them--will allow us to do things with transdermal drug delivery we never dreamed of doing before."

- take a look at the release