MedImmune inks licensing deal with Bioasis for brain delivery platform

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune forged a new deal with Bioasis Technologies, licensing from the Vancouver, Canada, company its brain delivery platform aimed at overcoming challenges associated with the blood-brain barrier.

The agreement gives MedImmune the opportunity to evaluate Bioasis' Transcend brain delivery platform, which Bioasis has used to explore potential treatments for neurodegeneration, metastatic cancer and metabolic diseases in the brain.

The Transcend platform acts as a shuttle designed to, according to the company, "piggy-back" drugs across the blood-brain barrier into cells in the brain. The blood-brain barrier presents a challenge for drug delivery in particular as, in a mechanism to protect the brain from unwanted substances, it also blocks many drugs.

By linking a drug such as a chemotherapeutic agent to a protein that normally transports iron, Transcend can greatly increase the concentration of drugs in the brain. The protein, p97, is ferried across the brain capillary endothelial cells by an endogenous receptor, according to the company, and can carry the drugs with it.

In a mouse model, p97 linked to cancer drugs paclitaxel or adriamycin led to 10 times the amount of the drugs reaching the brain.

According to Bioasis chief scientist Reinhard Gabathuler, Bioasis has been working with MedImmune since 2012 to develop new generations of Transcend, sporting two iterations in the last few years. Of the recent agreement, he said in a statement: "We feel that this next generation of Transcend will have specific advantages in transporting certain biologics into the brain."

"MedImmune is pleased to be entering into this agreement with Bioasis," associate director of antibody discovery and protein engineering at MedImmune Carl Webster said in a statement. "Our recently completed initial collaboration was very positive and led us to decide to undertake this second project to investigate the therapeutic effect and utility of Bioasis' technology."

- here's the release