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Science | BBS NanoTech


Targeted cancer nanosynthesis (TCN) is a NextGen process utilized by BBS to generate nanoparticular therapeutics and diagnostic agents. In the 1990s, liposomes, or first generation nanoparticles, were shown to improve the safety profile of cytotoxic cancer drugs by encapsulating them within fat globules. However, first generation liposomal nanoparticles have a number of significant drawbacks including lack of targeting to cancer cells, difficult manufacturing processes, and lack of control over where and when drugs are released from the liposome in the patient. All of these drawbacks underline the medical need for significant technical advances in the concept of cancer nanotechnology for improved patient outcomes. TCN is the technical breakthrough to fill this important medical need for cancer patients. Targeted cancer nanosystems are generated by finding the right polymers of opposite charge under the right conditions to self-assemble into nanoparticles of a narrow size distribution for tumor penetration and internalization into cancer cells. Only certain polymers in precise ratios self-assemble, which is a key aspect of a simplified manufacturing process and robust stability profile. In addition to self-assembly properties, these same polymers must be biologically compatible, biodegradable and non-immunogenic.

Chemical functional groups to attach cancer-targeting molecules must be incorporated into the polymers in locations that will accommodate their sizes and shapes. Finally, other chemical functional groups to allow covalent or ionic bonding of the encapsulated drugs must also be present in locations that will allow binding of drugs that vary by size, shape, charge and solubility.  On encountering cancer cells, targeted cancer nanosystems bind and are internalized to release the drug/diagnostic agent inside the cancer cells. The TCN process transforms cancer drugs and diagnostics with debilitating side effects that limit their use into safe drugs and diagnostic agents with high specificity and high affinity for better patient outcomes.  In the world of cancer imaging and diagnostics, the increased imaging sensitivity of TCN provides not only lower patient exposure to toxic imaging agents, but also lower exposure to the risks of diagnostic radiation for patients.  The combination of drug and contrast agent into a single targeted cancer nanosystem offers the potential to generate a theranostic product. Offering cancer patients the ability to see and understand how and where their therapy is working, and offering physicians the ability to adjust each patient’s treatment regimen in real time, theranostics is a breakthrough technology in oncology.

Seminal work by key nanoparticle experts, including Dr. Janos Borbely, demonstrated that biocompatible materials such as hyaluronic or polyglutamic acid and chitosan would self-assemble under the right conditions to generate stable nanoparticles of specific size and charge and that self-assembly could be made to occur in the presence of many different hydrophobic and hydrophilic cancer drugs and imaging agents. It was discovered that targeting molecules such as folate and peptides such as somatostatin could be covalently linked to these particles. Hence, self-assembly could be used to generate targeted cancer nanosystems.   BBS Nanotechnology havesuccessfully generated biocompatible, folate receptor targeted, self-assembled nanoparticles as a platform technology for treatment and diagnosis of cancer.  Leveraging the breakthrough chemical understanding of the structure-function relationship of nanochemistry, BBS Nanotechnology’s proprietary platform overcomes key limitations associated with historical nanoparticle platform technologies and provides a novel approach for the discovery, maturation and optimization of therapeutic and diagnostic nanoparticles.   Key aspects of BBS platform are described in the following section.