Nature Technology Corporation (NTC) / Johns Hopkins University Receive $920,000 NIH Grant for Cutaneous Gene Therapy Development.
Overcoming the gene silencing barrier opens doors for gene therapy.
Lincoln, NE (PRWEB) April 12, 2011
NTC today announced the award of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The award represents a continuation of a Phase I study, which initially demonstrated the feasibility of overcoming transgene silencing, previously, a major barrier to successful gene therapy.
In addition to anti-silencing elements, the earlier work resulted in scientific advances to non-viral gene therapy, including: antibiotic-free vectors; gene activity enhancers; overcoming immune responses to foreign DNA, a novel vaccine adjuvant, and DNA production enhancers, according to Clague Hodgson, NTC’s President. “The work is reported in several publications, currently in press, from the R&D group1 led by Dr. Jim Williams, NTC’s Chief Scientific Officer and the Principal Investigator on the project,” he said.
Through collaboration with investigators at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and other institutions, the effectiveness of non-viral gene therapy and DNA vaccination using NTC’s vectors was demonstrated in mouse, rabbit, and pig models, as well as in the human ex vivo (cell therapy) mode.
NTC’s collaborators on the Phase II work include two JHU spinoff companies: Gene Facelift, LLC; and Canton Biotechnologies, Inc.
Gene Facelift (led by JHU graduate and entrepreneur, Dr. Aaron Tabor) is a cosmetic treatment for ageing skin, aimed at stimulating skin cell growth and restoration. Dr. Tabor is also the inventor of a cutaneous delivery method and formulations, which are used in combination with NTC’s vectors to deliver skin growth factor genes.
“The genetic cosmetic for anti-aging is just our first step,” said Dr. Tabor, “Our goal is to use the same gene transfer technology to help children battling inherited blistering skin disorders; paralyzed patients fighting pressure ulcers; and, burn victims struggling to control infection and grow new skin.”
Canton, under the leadership of JHU investigator and surgeon, Dr. John Harmon, is developing treatments for wound healing and diabetic ulcers, combining proprietary JHU gene discoveries with electroporation delivery of the vectors. Dr. Harmon’s laboratory has been working with DNA expression vectors to enhance wound healing for a decade.
“The NTC vectors are the best we have ever seen,” said Dr. Harmon, “They have high transfection efficiency and extraordinary safety features. We are excited to be working with NTC to bring these vectors to the clinic.”
The grant is expected to provide essential data that the investigators can take to the FDA in support of upcoming clinical trials, according to Drs. Tabor and Harmon.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/4/prweb8294542.htm