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Polymer platform technology innovates drug delivery
Date:4/16/2013

(Edmonton) A University of Alberta researcher is thinking small to find innovative ways to improve the delivery of drugs that can be more easily administered with fewer side-effects.

Afsaneh Lavasanifar, a professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, has developed and patented a polymer platform technology that can carry drugs to specific areas of the body at a nanoscopic scale. The polymeric nanostructures contain an outer shell and inner core that are capable of encapsulating drugs that the body normally has a hard time absorbing and processing.

"Making drugs water soluble is a major problem in drug development," Lavasanifar says. "When drugs are not water soluble, they cannot be absorbed efficiently by the body or administered efficiently, making them ineffective."

Lavasanifar developed the polymer over three years and published her initial findings in 2006. With support from TEC Edmonton, in 2010 she launched her own company, Meros Polymers, and currently serves as vice-president and chief science officer.

The company secured a U.S. patent for the polymer late last year, with patents pending in Europe and Japan, and was recently named a semifinalist in the fast-growth category of the TEC VenturePrize.

Targeted drug delivery

In addition to solving water insolubility, the polymer could be used to target delivery of drugs in specific areas of the body. Much of Lavasanifar's research has focused on the targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs, some of which can be harmful to organs such as the heart or kidneys.

"We can change the normal distribution of the anti-cancer drug in the body and get the drug into the tumour and away from the site where it causes toxicity," she says.

A polymer within this platform that shows unique thermo-reactive propertiesit's liquid at room temperature but turns into a gel when warmed to body temperaturehas potential applications for eye
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Contact: Bryan Alary
bryan.alary@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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