ARC Linkage grant extends successful collaboration between MIPS and Starpharma

A long running collaboration between scientists at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and Melbourne-based biotechnology company Starpharma has been awarded $433,000 through the ARC linkage scheme.

The collaboration between Professor Chris Porter’s group at MIPS and Dr David Owen and his team at Starpharma has resulted in the design and development of innovative drug delivery systems that provide for enhanced drug therapy, especially in oncology. Throughout their collaboration, the groups have successfully developed intellectual property that supports Starpharma’s ‘DEP®’ drug delivery platform. This technology platform underpins three Starpharma oncology products in Phase 2 clinical trials (DEP® docetaxel, DEP® cabazitaxel and DEP® irinotecan) and via a partnership between Starpharma and AstraZeneca, the AstraZeneca product AZD0466 that is currently in Phase 1. These programs represent the translation of science to addressing unmet medical need in the real world.

Starpharma logo

The current grant seeks to expand the technology to explore actively targeted dendrimers or antibody targeted drug conjugates (ADCs) based on dendrimers, with a view to advancing these into the clinic. This broader collaboration with Dr Angus Johnston and Professor Martin Scanlon will employ a range of synthetic biology approaches to probe the relationship between dendrimer structure and targeting efficiency and will lay the foundation for the design of next generation targeted dendrimers.

Professor Porter commented, “This program is a great example of the power of a successful academic-industry collaboration and the impact that can be derived from enduring relationships with synergistic skills. The team at Starpharma are fantastic collaborators and I am both delighted and grateful to Starpharma and the ARC, to receive this funding via the Linkage scheme. It will broaden and expedite the program and I look forward to the high impact outcomes it will undoubtedly generate”.

Dr Jackie Fairley, Starpharma CEO commented: “We are very pleased that this program has been awarded the ARC linkage grant and to continue working with MIPS towards the development of next-generation nanomedicines. Our work with targeted drug delivery is a particularly exciting, given that Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) have been the feature of several significant commercial deals in 2020. Multiple studies have demonstrated that Starpharma’s DEP® technology provides enhanced therapeutic benefits to ADCs and we look forward to advancing these ADC programs and potential commercial discussions”.

About Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS)

MIPS is Australia’s largest, most experienced and successful group of pharmaceutical scientists. MIPS integrates research from four key discipline-based themes including: Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Action; Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation; Drug Delivery, Disposition and Dynamics; and Drug Discovery Biology - to identify, develop, optimise and deliver new drug treatments, ultimately translating basic research into clinical trials. MIPS has long-term collaborative research programs with more than 20 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including strong partnerships with industry leaders such as Servier and GlaxoSmithKline.

About Starpharma

Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL, OTCQX:SPHRY) is a global biopharmaceutical company and a world leader in the development of new pharmaceutical and medical products based on a proprietary polymer called dendrimers, with programs for COVID-19, DEP® drug delivery and VivaGel®.  Starpharma is developing VIRALEZE®, a preventative antiviral nasal spray for COVID-19 which is complementary to vaccines and other preventative measures such as distancing and PPE. VIRALEZE® also has potential use in future pandemics and is afforded expedited development because it is repurposing an already-marketed, broad-spectrum antiviral dendrimer, SPL7013. VIRALEZE® is expected to be ready for market in H1 CY2021. SPL7013 is utilised in approved products - the VivaGel® condom and VivaGel® BV. VivaGel® BV has been licensed in >160 countries and is already approved in >40 countries (in Europe, UK, SE Asia, Aus/NZ).

Starpharma also has a proprietary drug delivery platform technology, DEP®, which is being used to improve pharmaceuticals, to reduce toxicities and enhance their performance. There are numerous internal and partnered programs underway to develop DEP® versions of existing drugs, particularly in the area of anti-cancer. DEP® partnerships include programs with AstraZeneca and other world leading pharmaceutical companies, which have the potential to generate significant future milestones and royalties.