AAPS Meeting

November 12, 2009


Optimum presented a poster at the 2009 AAPS convention in LA on Thursday, November 12 entitled: Tumor penetrating microparticles for intraperitoneal treatment of pancreatic cancer.



Discovery of Potential Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

November 4, 2009; reprinted from Drug Discovery and Development


Tiny particles that can carry drugs and target cancer cells may offer treatment hope for those suffering with pancreatic cancer. New research to be presented in November at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting in Los Angeles reveals that tumor-penetrating microparticles (TPM) have been specifically designed to break through hard-to-infiltrate barriers and deliver drugs more effectively and efficiently than the standard form of chemotherapy such as those injected through a vein.


According to Jessie L.S. Au, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an AAPS fellow and a Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University who initiated the study, TPM are designed to treat cancer in the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneal cavity contains organs, including the pancreas, that are home to more than 250,000 new cases of cancer a year in the United States alone. "Pancreatic cancer cells are surrounded by specialized cells that protect them from chemotherapy," explains Dr. Au. "Our goal is to use TPM to pass this barrier and successfully deliver drugs to the tumor cells, which is currently the biggest hurdle a physician faces in pancreatic cancer treatment."


According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer in the U.S., with more than 80 percent of the 38,000 patients stricken with the disease dying within one year of diagnosis.


Dr. Au, who is also co-founder of Optimum Therapeutics LLC, the company bringing TPM to clinical trials, goes on to explain that TPM releases what the researchers call a "smart bomb" of drugs to create holes in the tumor so TPM can reach tumor cells. Once inside a tumor, TPM slowly releases drug levels that are sustained over several weeks, targeting both the rapid- and slow-growing tumors. Because the TPM were designed to move about and reach tumors without being swept away by the lymphatic system, they are able to stay in the peritoneal cavity longer and deliver highly concentrated drug doses to the cancer-affected organ. It is this two-tiered drug attack that is unique in pancreatic cancer treatment.


With just one TPM dose of drugs proving to be equally as effective as multiple injections of chemotherapy, TPM delivers less toxicity to patients, making it a safer option than the standard form of other therapies. "Based on the encouraging results in mice carrying implants of human pancreatic cancer, we are cautiously optimistic that TPM may provide benefits to patients with this disease," says Ze Lu, Ph.D., principal scientist and project leader. "TPM may prove to be especially helpful to patients with late stages of the disease." According to Dr. Lu, the researchers have been working on TPM for more than 10 years and look forward to receiving FDA approval for testing TPM in patients in 2010.


The researchers are collaborating with physicians at the Medical University of South Carolina who believe a potential use of TPM, in addition to treating patients with peritoneal metastases, is to downstage or downsize the tumors so that they are operable.



ARRA Funding

September 29, 2009


Optimum was awarded an ARRA supplement of $400,000 from the NIH/NCI to accelerate the bladder cancer project towards clinical testing.



NIH Doles out Nearly $1.5M in RNAi, miRNA Small Business Research Grants in September

September 24, 2009; reprinted in part from Genome Web RNAi News


When it comes to handing out research funding, September was a busy month for the National Institutes of Health, which awarded nearly $1.5 million in one-year Small Business Innovation Research grants to companies playing in the RNAi and microRNA fields ... Another newcomer to the RNAi space, Optimum Therapeutics, was awarded $125,561 from the NIH to develop an intraperitoneally delivered siRNA-based cancer therapy.


The company has pinpointed high tumor-cell density as a key barrier to intra-tumoral transport, and has since developed the tumor priming technology to promote particulate delivery and interstitial transport in solid tumors," according to the grant's abstract. "This technology uses [the chemotherapeutic] paclitaxel to induce apoptosis, expand the interstitial space, and consequently promote greater penetration and more even dispersion of particulates in tumor matrix."


With the support of the NIH funding, Optimum plans to evaluate the feasibility of using this so-called tumor-priming microparticles technology to "promote delivery and penetration of liposomal siRNA into tumors," the abstract notes. It will then "test whether the established technologies can enhance the therapeutic efficacy of [survivin-targeting] siRNA in the treatment of intraperitoneal tumor."