N4 Pharma Develops Nanoparticle Technology for Vaccine Delivery

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The technology uses a silica nanoparticle to deliver vaccines and cancer treatments.

On Feb. 27, 2019, N4 Pharma, a specialist pharmaceutical company, introduced a new drug delivery technology it is developing, Nuvec, a non-viral adjuvant delivery system for vaccines and cancer treatments. Nuvec is based on silica nanoparticles and has the potential to help commercialize cancer immunotherapy drugs and improve the effectiveness of viral vaccines.

Nuvec silica nanoparticles have a unique irregular (spikey) surface structure, coupled with polyethyleneimine (PEI), that traps and protects nucleic acid (such as mRNA/pDNA) as it travels to the cells. Once inside the cell, it is released to activate the immune system. Nuvec is also a natural adjuvant, meaning that it attracts large numbers of antigen presenting cells which, in turn, leads to a strong activation of T-cells, increasing the level of immune response against the target cancer cells.

According to the company, studies so far have shown that Nuvec is well tolerated, even at high doses, with no major toxicology findings across rat/mouse in vivo and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)/spleen in-vitro studies. Nuvec has been shown to remain at the injection site without being directed to the liver, unlike some lipid systems, which can result in systemic inflammation. The delivery system has been developed with a scalable manufacturing process, using standard processing technology, the company states.

Recent studies have confirmed that the immune response observed with Nuvec was sufficient to have produced high levels of antibodies specific for the standard test antigen ovalbumin (OVA), the company states.  A high level of antibody production is essential for a vaccine to initiate immunity. The levels of antibodies produced were greater than those of in vivo-jetPEI, an industry standard used to deliver pDNA-OVA in pre-clinical studies. Furthermore, an assessment of the produced antibody isotypes showed that the system delivers a robust immune response necessary for an effective vaccine for oncology and virology.


“Existing delivery systems, such as lipid nanoparticles, were not originally designed for working with nucleic acids, and, although they can also produce good immune responses, they can be unstable and difficult to handle and often require an additional adjuvant/immunomodulator to ensure immunogenicity. They can also cause liver toxicity. Nuvec has been designed specifically to work with nucleic acids, which are the subject of significant research investment in the fields of cancer immunotherapy and vaccines,” said Allan Hey, head of Nuvec CMC Program Development, N4 Pharma, in a company press release. 

Source: N4 Pharma