Safer drugs, better cancer care

NanoSmart Pharmaceuticals and UCLA enter collaboration agreement for pediatric cancer drug development

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LAGUNA HILLS, Calif.—NanoSmart Pharmaceuticals, a privatebiotechnology company, entered into a research collaboration agreement inmid-January with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to continuethe development of NanoSmart's novel drug delivery platform for the treatmentof cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
NanoSmart's patented drug delivery system utilizes humanautoimmune antibodies that target many different types of tumors, the partnerssay, and when those are combined with already FDA-approved cancer drugs, thistechnology reportedly allows for the creation of a broad range ofnext-generation, safer and more effective oncology therapeutics.
"NanoSmart has always had an interest in improving drugs forpediatric cancers, as our antinuclear antibody enables us to target these rarecancers as well as larger cancers like breast, lung, prostate, etc.," NanoSmartPresident Dr. James Smith tells ddn."The universal tumor targeting capability of our drug delivery platform enablesNanoSmart to focus on many different rare diseases that other typicaldevelopment companies aren't able to address due to their limited ability torecoup costs from a small customer base."
Smith explains that his company already had secured acollaboration with Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in November 2011 toassess its formulation for Ewing's sarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer diagnosedin approximately 250 to 300 kids each year in the United States.
"NanoSmart is always on the lookout for collaborators tohelp develop and improve formulations for rare diseases that would otherwise gountreated," Smith says, and notes that his company connected with Dr. NoahFederman and his colleagues at UCLA through a family friend of NanoSmart's vicepresident of business development, Dan Thiel.
"This family recently lost their 10-year-old daughter,Hunter, to Ewing's sarcoma. As is the case with many of these rare diseases,Hunter was asymptomatic and passed away before doctors had a chance tointervene," Smith relates. "Knowing the work in which Dan was involved,Hunter's family introduced him to Dr. Federman. As part of his work at UCLA,Dr. Federman has a strong passion for supporting research and development ofnovel therapeutic approaches that could help prevent such tragedies. Ourinitial discussions began near the end of July, based upon mutual researchinterests, and our common goal of developing new, more effective treatments forpediatric sarcomas." 
Federman is the director of the Pediatric Bone and Soft TissueSarcoma Program at UCLA, a part of the UCLA Sarcoma Program and UCLA's JonssonComprehensive Cancer Center, as well as an assistant professor of pediatrics inhematology and oncology at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.
"Despite theextensive research into new drug formulations," Federman says, "the pace ofadvancing benefit to this patient population is unfortunately slowing. We arepleased to collaborate with NanoSmart to help drive the development of thesemuch-needed products."
To NanoSmart's technology base, UCLA's Jonsson ComprehensiveCancer Center brings what NanoSmart and UCLA say is among the nation's largestand top-ranked comprehensive cancer research centers, boasting more than 240researchers and clinicians dedicated to promoting research and translatingbasic science into leading-edge clinical studies.
Although NanoSmart hadn't previously had a relationship withFederman and his team, Smith says he was "pleased to discover that he hasworked with another collaborative partner of ours, Dr. Timothy Triche,professor of pathology and pediatrics and director of the CHLA Department of Pathology'sCenter for Personalized Medicine. Dr. Federman and Dr. Triche share researchinterests and several novel animal models, and have co-authored at least onerecent study investigating liposomal nanoparticles. This substantial overlapbetween CHLA and UCLA expands NanoSmart's research bandwidth and developmentcapabilities."
A the time the CHLA deal was sealed in 2011, Triche said,"We are pleased to work with NanoSmart as part of our ongoing research programin nanoparticle-mediated therapy of Ewing's sarcoma. This research willcomplement other research currently in progress in our lab. It is unique inthat NanoSmart has leveraged a naturally occurring human antibody to target thenanoparticles to the tumor, which if successful should facilitate rapidapproval from the FDA for use on Ewing's sarcoma patients."
The more recent collaboration agreement between NanoSmartand UCLA will allow NanoSmart access to tremendous scientific and clinicalexpertise both directly and through Federman's network, Smith says.
"Paired with NanoSmart's development and regulatoryexpertise, the two institutions' abilities to develop solutions for rarepediatric cancers is increased," he adds. "While NanoSmart holds intellectualproperty for antibodies and various nanoparticle formulations, Dr. Federman'slab at UCLA can provide novel animal models and access to labs withnanotechnology drug development capabilities."
These are resources, Smith notes, which may allow NanoSmart toextend proof-of-concept data and preclinical efficacy and safety studies acrossmultiple cancer tumor types.
"Down the road, Dr. Federman's affiliation with the JonssonComprehensive Cancer Center enables access to clinical trial resources andinfrastructure that can manage NanoSmart's planned Phase I/II clinical trials,"he concludes.

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