Gov't invests $11m in nano drug delivery robot [Globes, Tel Aviv, Israel]By Gali Weinreb, Globes, Tel Aviv, IsraelMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
July 26--The government will invest $11 million to develop nanometer-sized drug delivery systems for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. The Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) will be responsible for the project, which will be led by Prof. Dan Peer, of the Department of Cell Research and Immunology at Tel Aviv University.
11 laboratories at several universities will participate in the project to try and create an "inter-body robot", nano-sized particles that can direct medicine and imaging systems directly to predetermined targets in the body.
Peer told "Globes", "The consortium of laboratories was created following a call for papers by INNI, which asked to channel nanotechnology know-how to applied ventures in various fields. We organized 11 laboratories around angiogenesis diseases the multiplication or lack of blood vessels," Angiogenesis diseases include cancer, infectious diseases, and heart diseases.
"It is possible to target this field from several different directions," said Peer. "One of our laboratories knows how create nanometer structures that function as bearers of drugs. Another laboratory produces the antibodies, which can identify targets in the body and reach them. When these antibodies are added to the bearers, they carry them to the location. Chemists at another laboratory are developing materials that can be seen with imaging systems. When these are added to the nanometer structure, it is possible to monitor it in the body and see whether the drug reaches its target.
"We have a laboratory of our users -- a cardiologist, parasitologist, and cancer researcher. They are responsible for formulating applications of the delivery inflammatory diseases of the bowel, I am responsible for fundraising and coordinating everyone."
The participating laboratories meet once every two months, and are advised by internationally renowned scientists, led by Prof. Robert Langer of MIT.
The project's declared objective is to jointly create 5-6 applied technologies, each of which can serves as the basis for founding a start-up. Tel Aviv University said that the project has already attracted the attention of multinational pharmaceutical companies. "I believe that we'll budding projects within two years," said Peer.
Prof. Peer's independent work, unrelated to this project, is the basis for two start-ups: Boston-based < Leuko Bioscience Inc., which focuses on cancers of the blood, and had a successful human Phase I clinical trial; and Ness Ziona-based Quiet Therapeutics Ltd., jointly established by Pontifax Fund and Roche Holding AG (SWX: ROG), which is due to reach the clinical trial stage within two years.
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