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Posted: June 29, 2010
Starpharma and Monash University Collaboration Receives ARC Funding Grant
(Nanowerk News) Starpharma Holdings Limited and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) have been awarded
an Australian Research Council funding grant for the purpose of advancing a new drug delivery
method that may benefit thousands of patients with particular types of cancer, HIV and lymphatic
Innovation Minister Kim Carr awarded Starpharma and MIPS $420,000 as part of the ARC's Linkage
Projects scheme aimed at encouraging Australian institutions to undertake innovative and cuttingedge
research projects in collaboration with industry and other partners.
"This funding will assist in advancing our collaboration with researchers from Monash University over
the next three years, to further understand the full potential of Starpharma's proprietary dendrimers
in improving drug delivery," said Dr Jackie Fairley, CEO of Starpharma. "This research has the
potential to significantly improve the treatment of diseases, including metastatic cancer, lymphoma,
HIV and metastitial tuberculosis."
Professor Chris Porter, lead researcher and Associate Dean of Research at MIPS, said the
technology has particular implications for the treatment of diseases which are spread via the
lymphatics and lymph nodes.
"Our work so far suggests that careful design of the size and surface characteristics of certain
dendrimers provides an opportunity to boost delivery to the lymphatic system, signalling the potential
to significantly improve patient treatment," Professor Porter explained. "This Linkage grant provides
an excellent opportunity to explore these issues in detail and to advance the development of targeted
The ability to target therapeutics in this way has the potential to enhance efficacy and reduce side
effects and toxicity of treatments. The approach also prolongs the lifetime of the drug in question by
slowing the process of drug breakdown. This maximises the opportunities for the drug to reach the
relevant sites in the body before being cleared by the body's natural mechanisms.
The delivery method relies on dendrimer technology. Dendrimers are precisely defined biofriendly
molecules 3-10 nanometres in diameter. They are approximately spherical in shape with a surface
which has many different sites to which drugs and other functional groups may be attached, allowing
optimisation of how the drug interacts with the body.
Starpharma Holdings Limited is a world leader in the development of dendrimer technology for
pharmaceutical, life-science and other applications. SPL has two operating companies, Starpharma Pty Ltd in Melbourne, Australia and
DNT, Inc in the USA. Products based on SPL's dendrimer technology are already on the market in the form of diagnostic elements and
laboratory reagents through licence arrangements with partners including Siemens and Merck KgA.
The Company's lead pharmaceutical development product is VivaGel® (SPL7013 Gel), a vaginal microbicide designed to prevent the
transmission of STIs, including HIV and genital herpes. In September 2008 Starpharma signed a full licence agreement with SSL
International plc (LSE:SSL) to develop a VivaGel® coated condom. SSL manufactures and sells Durex® condoms, the market-leading
condom brand worldwide.
Starpharma also has agreements in place with Lilly, Elanco, Stiefel Laboratories (a GSK Company), and Unilever as well as many
research collaborations with some of the world's leading organisations.