MIPS collaboration helps Starpharma seal deal with Astra Zeneca

(from left to right) Professor Ben Boyd, Chris Porter, and Dr Lisa Kaminskas
(from left to right) Professor Ben Boyd, Chris Porter, and Dr Lisa Kaminskas

A long standing collaboration between MIPS scientists and the Melbourne-based biotechnology company Starpharma reached a significant commercialisation milestone with the announcement by Starpharma of a major licencing deal with the global pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca. MIPS scientists Chris Porter, Lisa Kaminskas and Ben Boyd have been working with Starpharma for more than 10 years to support the development of novel dendrimer based nanomedicines and are co-inventors on some of Starpharma's DEP® drug delivery patents.

Starpharma's DEP® drug delivery platform has been demonstrated to improve the delivery of anti-cancer agents to tumour sites, and reduce toxicities often seen during chemotherapy. Starpharma's license to AstraZeneca is for the use of the DEP® drug delivery platform in the development and commercialisation of an important AstraZeneca oncology compound with the potential for follow on compounds directed at a defined family of targets. Further details are provided in Starpharma's ASX release available at www.starpharma.com/news/247.

Professor Chris Porter, the MIPS project leader said 'The licensing deal that Starpharma have struck with AstraZeneca is fantastic news and provides excellent external validation of the potential utility of this technology. I am thrilled that the efforts of our group at MIPS, supported by the ARC Linkage scheme, has helped Starpharma deliver such a great result'. 

Dr David Owen Vice President Research at Starpharma, underlined the potential of the DEP® delivery platform adding, 'Starpharma has generated very encouraging pre-clinical data with the DEP® delivery platform for a number of drugs.  Our lead oncology candidate, DEP® docetaxel, is in Phase 1 clinical trials and results so far are very promising. We and our industry partners are very excited about the opportunities for the DEP® technology – and look forward to continuing our productive collaboration with MIPS'.

Starpharma's DEP® technology can be used to improve the performance of both new and existing pharmaceuticals.  Both pre-clinical and early clinical data have shown DEP® versions of drugs to be superior in a variety of ways to the unmodified marketed formulations. Pre-clinical studies of DEP® conjugates with a number of different drugs have already established a variety of benefits including improved efficacy and reduced toxicity compared to the marketed drug equivalent.  Starpharma's lead internal development candidate, DEP® docetaxel, continues to demonstrate good tolerability and improved pharmacokinetics in the clinic compared with its reference drug, Taxotere®. 

Professor Bill Charman, Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences added 'This is yet another outstanding example of the power of deep and enduring academic-industrial collaborations within the Australian biotechnology ecosystem – focused on translation of science in areas of unmet medical need. Alongside the recently funded ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio Nano Science and Technology, this outcome highlights Monash's commitment to Nanoscience and progress towards the development of next generation Nanomedicines'.