Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UConn and UNC-Chapel Hill researchers aim to commercialize nanoparticle drug delivery system to improve cancer treatment


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 13th, 2019

A start-up led by researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill aims to commercialize nanotechnologies that could lead to major advances in cancer therapy.

Nami Therapeutics is developing specifically designed nanoparticles for targeted cancer drug delivery.

“Our mission is to bring patients who have already exhausted many treatment options another chance to live a cancer-free life,” says Xiuling Lu, associate professor of pharmaceuticals at UConn and CEO of Nami.

Many current cancer therapies are limited in that they can’t effectively target specific tumors without spreading throughout the rest of the body. Nami’s technology, which is designed to treat ovarian cancer, selectively targets cancer metastasis in the peritoneal cavity, while remaining only in the peritoneal space.

Nami also uses a manufacturing process to create the radioactive nanoparticles that reduces the amount of time that technicians might need to handle the radioactive product.

“People know that making radioactive isotopes is hard. Nobody wants to handle that,” says Lu. “Ours is a safe, effective and far more economical process because our manufacturing uses non-radioactive materials and then simply requires a one-step conversion to make it radioactive.”

The company is also working on a particle to deliver drugs to reduce the recurrence of leukemia by effectively targeting cancer stem cells with chemotherapy drugs. “We’re still an early start-up, but we have a big mission,” says Lu.

Nami is based at UConn’s Technology Incubation Program and has received support through the university’s NSF I-Corps Site, Accelerate UConn and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“These programs helped us shape our business plan, so we started to think like entrepreneurs and business people as well as scientists,” says Lu. “A lot of technologies are so fancy and look so nice, but you can’t move that technology as a product without understanding the business side of things.”

Source: UConn Today

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