UCL, H Lundbeck & Nanomerics collaborate to develop drug delivery methods to brain

30 April 2014

Nanomerics, the drug delivery company, is embarking on a new EPSRC funded collaborative research project with UCL, Exeter University and the Danish pharmaceutical company H Lundbeck to develop drug delivery methods to the brain. 

Brain scan

As part of the new collaboration, the company – which is spin-out from UCL – aims to develop new and exciting ways to deliver antibodies to the brain, building on the molecular envelope technology Nanomerics has developed to deliver previously undeliverable drugs to the organ.

The consortium aims to develop antibody medicines that are active in the brain – and hence useful for the treatment of conditions such as dementia and brain cancer. UCL will led research which, it is hoped, will lead to effective treatments, backed with just over £1m in funding from the EPSRC’s Health Impact Partnerships award scheme.   

The new therapeutic aims to overcome current barriers which make it exceptionally difficult for antibodies to be used to treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and brain tumours – diseases which are becoming more widespread in the population, with half a million sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease in the UK alone.

It is thought that antibodies, which are currently used to treat a range of conditions, could also be used to successfully treat neurological conditions. However, if administered orally they can be destroyed in the stomach and intestines and cannot cross the intestinal wall to get into the blood.

Overcoming the barrier to delivering medicines into the brain will go a huge way to delivering such treatments and improving the quality of life of many millions of sufferers worldwide.

Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu (UCL Pharmaceutics)

This makes antibody medicines expensive and impacts on patient adherence.  However – more pressingly for the potentially treatment of neurological disorders – when antibodies are in the blood, they cannot cross the blood vessels in the brain to get to the brain tissue.  This inability to access the brain is due to their large size and good solubility in the blood. 

The new collaboration will aim to overcome this barrier and enable delivery of potential therapeutics directly into the brain.

Ijeoma Uchegbu, Chief Scientific Officer at Nanomerics and Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience at UCL, said:

“This collaboration will bolster our efforts to deliver effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases to patients. Overcoming the barrier to delivering medicines into the brain will go a huge way to delivering such treatments and improving the quality of life of many millions of sufferers worldwide.”

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