Tobacco money funds NanoJacket cancer drug delivery

Penn State College of Medicine is using a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program to develop a cancer-fighting NanoJacket nanoparticle that targets breast cancer cells. The CURE program, created under the terms of the Tobacco Settlement/Act 77 (2001), awards research grants for clinical, health services and biomedical research.

Mark Kester, director of Penn State Center for NanoMedicine and Materials, will collaborate with James Adair of the Penn State Department of Material Sciences and Engineering, and Penn State spinoff company Keystone Nano, to develop a NanoJacket particle that targets a genetic mutation linked with breast cancer with a poor outcome. The particle is loaded with siRNA that is designed to silence the mutation and prevent expression of the abnormal protein, causing death of the cancer cell.

RNAi therapy shows promise, but delivering the therapeutic siRNAs is the stumbling block, and a number of companies and research groups are tackling this issue, using techniques from injectable DNA origami to transdermal gold particles. The money will fund preclinical development of the nanoparticles, after which the company plans to submit an Investigational New Drug application to the FDA to begin clinical trials. In an interview with MedCity News, Kester says that it has taken 5 to 6 years to get to this point, with an estimated 18 months to get to the point where they can submit an IND.

NanoJackets are capsules of calcium, phosphate and silicates that dissolve inside the target cell, and Keystone Nano, founded by Kester and Adair, licensed the NanoJacket technology from Penn State University.

- check out the article in MedCity News
- read the press release