UK-based Stanelco has licensed rights to a non-gelatine encapsulation process developed by its subsidiaries Adept Polymers and Stanelco Fibre Optics to Isracaps, an Israeli company.
The news comes hard on the heels of a patent dispute between Stanelco and BioProgress, another UK firm specialising in non-gelatine encapsulation. Neither company was available to comment on what bearing the outcome of the lawsuit may have on the licensing deal before this article went to press.
Isracaps gains rights to use the starch-based process in its home market to manufacture capsules in which drugs, vitamins, food additives and other substances can be preserved in liquid form.
In a statement, the Israeli company noted that encapsulation is currently carried out using gelatine, which limits the substance forms that can be encapsulated and is a longer process. Isracap maintains that the starch-based technology developed by Stanelco is 40 per cent cheaper than gelatine-based alternatives.
Yaron Berenholtz, Isracaps' chief executive, said: "Presently, less than half the range of available drugs can be packaged in gelatine capsules due to the interaction with the gelatine. The introduction of capsules made from starch, derived from plant sources … will open up the drug capsules market and drastically reduce costs."
Israpac was formed with the express purpose of handling the Stanelco, and is still in the process of setting up manufacturing facilities in Israel and recruiting initial staff. It is also in talks with pharmaceutical companies and institutional financial investors, with a view to raising funds and signing a partner for the technology.
Stanelco says that it developed the starch-based process by combining the polymer film expertise of Adept with its own in-house radio-frequency-based sealing technology, stemming from its activities in fibre optics. The company has high hopes for the technology, according to Barrie Hozier, Stanelco 's finance director.
"We expect that starch capsules will displace most of the existing gelatine capsules from the capsule market to become the new standard," he commented, whilst predicting that the market opportunity is upwards of a billion dollars.