There is hope for patients with drug resistant leukemia. The Polish company GeneaMed patented a new use of dendrimers.
The Lodz-based biotechnology company operating since June 2015, working on the introduction of dendrimers on the global market as a potential drug for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, has discovered that modified nanoparticles are effective in helping patients who do not respond to drugs currently available on the pharmaceutical market. GeneaMed has already patented their discovery.
Currently GeneaMed has three patent applications. The last one is the widest, since it includes the use of dendrimers in the treatment of not only chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CCL), but also other leukemic diseases and drug-resistant forms of leukemia.
– At GeneaMed, we discovered that the nanoparticles we work on and which have proven effective in fighting cancer cells in the case of CCL leukemia, also deal with the hitherto drug-resistant forms of this disease. Thus, dendrimers are a hope for patients with specific chromosome aberrations and genetic mutations, for whom there is usually no chance – explains dr Ida Franiak-Pietryga, director of R&D at GeneaMed.
Nanoparticles, which GeneaMed researchers are working on, can be used to treat leukemic diseases, and more specifically chronic B-cell lymphoproliferative diseases. These diseases occur mainly in older people (around 60 years of age), but more and more often in people who are much younger, even 20-year-olds.
– In the case of young people, the disease usually progresses very aggressively. In older patients, due to the milder course of the disease and the risk of complications, standard chemotherapy is often not given, and milder forms of treatment are applied. Our preliminary studies show that the dendrimers can be much milder for the patient, and side effects are not as severe as in the case of available drugs – adds Dr. Franiak-Pietryga.
Dendrimers are nanoparticles that are used to transport active substances under biological conditions and have so far been tried to use them to transfer certain drugs in the human body. Dr Ida Franiak-Pietryga, a biologist/biophysicist, specialist in the diagnosis of leukemic diseases, discovered that dendrimers can – after some modification of the chemical structure – themselves cause the death of leukemic cells. Today, it is known that they have a chance to help patients not only with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but also those suffering from other types of proliferative diseases.
– The most common of chronic B-cell lymphoproliferative diseases is chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In the United States alone, over 16000 people develop it annually, of which 1/3 die. One can assume that this number will grow, because the societies are aging. Over the next 30 years, the population of people over 60 is expected to double and reach almost 2 billion people. The fight against leukemia will be a growing challenge. We hope that our invention will contribute to success in this battle – says Magdalena Jander, president of the GeneaMed board.
Today, a team with the support of international scientific institutes is working on dendrimers. GeneaMed cooperates with many universities from around the world, including UC Berkley, UC San Diego, University of Texas and Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden. Several pharmaceutical companies, also from Asia, have already been interested in the solutions developed by the company. GeneaMed is still looking for investors.
– We do not stop the research. Our goal is to submit further patent applications. We are currently developing a research plan for related solutions and further applications of nanoparticles, which – as we already know – have enormous potential. However, these studies are extremely expensive. We count on cooperation with venture capital funds – adds Magdalena Jander.
GeneaMed company was established in 2015 in Łódź. Its shareholders are INNOventure and the Akcelerator Technologii Fundacja Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego (Tech Accelerator of the University of Lodz). The company is managed by biotechnology scientists specializing in leukemic diseases and in medical genetics.