As well as acting as drugs in their own right (see VivaGel®) different kinds of Starpharma’s dendrimers can be used to enhance the properties of other drugs. The approach is known as “drug delivery” because it is about working to ensure that the drug is delivered to the right part of the body at the right time.
Starpharma has focused on four key drug delivery objectives:
Extending the duration of activity of the drug in the body
Dendrimers can protect drugs from degradation and clearance. This may mean that an improved dosing regimen can be pursued, for example, replacing a daily infusion with a once weekly injection.
Targeting drugs to Organs, Tissues or Molecular Receptors
Dendrimers have been used to actively or passively target a drug to particular destination in the body.
Reducing toxic side effects of drugs
Conversely dendrimers can be used to restrict the circulation of the drug in the body. This may avoid side effects, or may allow a higher dose of the drug to be administered than would otherwise be acceptable.
By joining the drug to a dendrimer construct, very large increases in drug solubility have been achieved, which can enhance the “bioavailability” of the drug.
Recently completed animal studies demonstrated that the Starpharma dendrimer – docetaxel formulation was significantly more efficacious than docetaxel in a breast cancer model. The improved efficacy is understood to be due to a longer circulating half-life, extended release of the docetaxel and targeting of the dendrimer-docetaxel construct to the tumour tissue.
Starpharma has applied this technology in its own development programs (such as docetaxel) and in partnership with pharmaceutical companies including Lilly, GSK’s Stiefel and a number of other undisclosed partners . The technology has applicability for many different diseases and drug classes.