SpeciGen’s Bio-Nanotechnology Featured in Cover Article in Science

Montana State University (MSU) scientists, and SpeciGen Inc.’s scientific co-founders, Drs. Mark Young and Trevor Douglas authored the cover article “Viruses: Making Friends With Old Foes” in the May 12th edition of the journal Science . Dr. Young stated, “Besides delivering nucleic acids, we can disarm viruses and change them so that they deliver other cargo molecules such as therapeutic and imaging agents, which can now be targeted to specific tissues and cells. This is an exciting development because we can change viruses from disease-causing agents to disease-prevention and -detection agents. We have expanded this approach to use other protein cage architectures to encapsulate and deliver a range of useful molecules. We started this approach almost a decade ago and this Science article really has allowed us to highlight the advances we have made in moving this technology towards a useful product.”

Professors Douglas and Young of Montana State University, Bozeman are pioneers in the field of protein cage technology and have discovered and developed the manufacture and use of protein cage nano-containers. Protein cages have a myriad of applications including the ability to carry and deliver, in a targeted fashion, a medical payload for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. MSU has patented the inventions and has exclusively licensed the technology to SpeciGen.

Lonnie Bookbinder, SpeciGen’s CEO stated: “The utility of this approach has been demonstrated with the use of our library of cages to attach and selectively release the anticancer drug doxorubicin. Targeted delivery is medically advantageous because our protein cages allow us to sequester the cargo until delivered and directed to release the drug in a specific physiological environment.” He added, “The encapsulated drug is hidden and therefore inert and biologically unavailable en route to it’s targeted location, for example, a specific cancer cell type.”

The chemical flexibility of protein cages allows targeting with antibodies, peptides and other agents to be used. With a range of protein cage sizes, from 9 nm in diameter (for comparison, the average thickness of a human hair is 50,000 nm) and upward, there are distinct advantages in getting the protein cage and drug payload to where the drug is needed. The collective features of protein cage delivery systems may lead to major benefits in drug therapy, such as fewer side effects and improved effectiveness.

Dr. Trevor Douglas stated, “Dr. Young and I have built a world-wide team of researchers and collaborators focused on advancing this technology. The exciting part is that now we are moving towards the clinic where we hope to see this technology emerge as part of the next generation of medical drug delivery and imaging systems.”

SpeciGen will manufacture and sell protein cages for use by research collaborators and development partners. The Company will customize protein cages by adding targeting agents and incorporate drug cargos of interest. SpeciGen will also advise partners on selection of specific protein cages, payloads and targeting agents based on intended medical application.

Dr. Brian Campion, Vice President of Corporate Development stated, ”we are pursuing the use of protein cages in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases. We know that we can develop only a small number of protein cage drug delivery products at one time. To expedite the benefits of drug delivery using our platform, we intend to partner with academic, federal and commercial entities as part of our business development strategy.”

With broad capabilities and benefits, the Company believes there are ample opportunities for diagnostic and therapeutic focused pharmaceutical companies to benefit from collaborating with SpeciGen. For further information please contact Brian K. Campion, PhD, Vice President, Corporate Development at (415) 819-7913 or [email protected].


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