Nastech have found four new classes of lipids that can be used to enhance transmucosal drug delivery and open up new opportunities for non-injectable forms of drugs that would otherwise require injections.
New non-injectable forms of drugs have the potential to revolutionise the lives of countless people, particularly those with diabetes, as the idea of injection deters many sufferers from taking the medication they need.
The cells in the body are connected to each other by tight junctions, which effectively prevent drugs getting through into the cell.
Many drug therapies that contain small molecules are still able to get into the cells easily because the small molecules can pass through the actual cell wall and bypass the tight junction.
However, drugs that contain large molecules are the hardest to deliver successfully, and often require subcutaneous delivery by injection, as the large molecules can not pass through the cell wall and require the tight junctions to be opened before they can get into the cell and be effective.
Among seven groups of lipids tested by Nastech (sterols, sphingolipids, ceramides, glycosylated sphingosines, alkylglucosides, oxidized lipids, and ether lipids), the latter four were identified as tight junction modulators (they can open tight junctions) and were thus shown to significantly enhance peptide permeation through epithelial tissue.
Researchers at >Nastech have found that these small lipid molecules can be mixed with drug compounds that contain large molecules, to open up the tight junctions and allow the large molecules to pass through into the cell, thus providing an alternate route of delivery to subcutaneous injection.
The company is now developing new drugs based on these proprietary molecular biology-based drug delivery technologies in collaboration with various partners.
In particular, Nastech is working with Merck to develop an anti-obesity drug called peptide YY, and also a parathyroid hormone (PTH) peptide to treat osteoporosis.
"These drugs are already proving very successful in clinical trials," Paul Johnson, senior vice president, research and development, told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.
Nastech is also now working on a nasal insulin spray. "By enhancing the delivery of insulin we can provide a more effective treatment using a lower dosage and less frequent administration than current injectable methods available," said Johnson.
The move by Nastech follows other biotech companies such as Generex and Bentley are also producing versions of insulin that can be inhaled through the nose and then absorbed by the nasal mucous membrane.