Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Harvard start-up develops vesicle-based drug delivery system


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 29th, 2020

A Harvard University start-up aims to commercialize a novel drug delivery system that uses tiny, mobile vesicles to direct therapeutic molecules where they’re needed.

The technology behind Vesigen Therapeutics could lead to new treatments for conditions where intracellular drug delivery is currently a roadblock. The vesicles, known as ARMMs, are each about one-millionth of the volume of the cell, but can hold hundreds of large molecules.

“If you want to deliver a therapeutic to the muscle, this vesicle can be engineered with specific surface molecules to target muscle cells,” says Quan Lu, co-developer of the technology and founder of Vesigen. In the case of eye diseases, Lu adds, “injecting locally into the retina might avoid some of the unwanted immune responses and toxicity associated with viral delivery methods.”

Vesigen launched with $28.5 million in Series A funding, which Lu plans to use to build out its drug delivery platform and advance a number of therapeutic agents into preclinical and clinical development. The start-up has also received support from Harvard’s Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator.

According to Lu, the technology came about unexpectedly while he and his fellow researchers were conducting basic research on how cells communicate with each other.

“My lab did not set out to find a therapeutic cure or a method to deliver therapeutics; we research biological questions that are relevant to public health,” he says. “But I’m very satisfied that some of the very basic findings in my lab have found these translation opportunities, and hopeful that our work may enable new therapies that save lives.”

Source: Harvard University Office of Technology Development

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