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New Cancer Target Identified for Albumin Enabled Anti-Cancer Therapeutics

Aarhus University’s Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) and Albumedix Ltd. (‘Albumedix’) have entered into a strategic research collaboration to evaluate the transport properties of albumin for site-selective drug delivery into disease cells to ensure more efficient and safer treatment for patients. Researchers from the NanoPharmaceutical Lab at Aarhus University’s Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), led by Associate Professor Ken Howard, together with Researchers from Albumedix Ltd., have identified a novel target in several cancer types that may pave the way for efficient delivery of drugs into cancer cells using the blood protein albumin as a carrier.
Today, a major leap towards this goal has been taken with the publication of a joint patent application (Identification and treatment of tumors characterized by an overexpression of the neonatal Fc receptor) between iNANO and Albumedix, that describes the overexpression of an albumin binding receptor in several cancer types providing a novel target for site-selective drug delivery. Identification of the over production of the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) in a broad range of cancer types screened from ~500 cancer patient biopsies is a groundbreaking result that is the basis for the published patent application.
Albumin is a blood protein that has a predominant role in the transport of nutrient molecules required for healthy cell growth. Its functions are facilitated by its long residence time in the blood due to engagement with the cellular recycling FcRn. The overzealous requirement of cancer cells for nutrients prompted the team to investigate whether over production of FcRn occurs in tumors as a method to quench the nutrient thirst that could also explain previously reported albumin accumulation in tumors in the literature.
“This is exciting work. It offers potential for site-selective targeting of drugs to cancer cells, thus overcoming a major hurdle in cancer therapeutics,” commented Associate Professor Ken Howard (Aarhus University). “The invention is based on sound scientific rationale and biological understanding that was executed through our long-standing relationship with Albumedix, facilitated by generous support from Innovation Fund Denmark. Harnessing the transport properties of a natural protein rather than relying on complicated drug delivery designs potentially offers a shorter path to clinic. Focus now is on incorporation of anti-cancer drugs into the albumins achieved through continued strong interaction and collaboration with Albumedix Ltd.”
Albumedix’ engineered recombinant albumins (Veltis®), specifically designed with an unprecedented high affinity towards the identified receptor, has been shown to exhibit greater accumulation in tumors implanted in mice. This offers a potential strategy for site-specific delivery of cancer drugs without toxic side effects associated with conventional anti-cancer medicines.
Jason Cameron, Science Director at Albumedix, commented: “Our great and long collaboration with Ken Howard and his group at iNANO, facilitated by the DKK nine million grant from the Innovation Fund Denmark, has moved us closer to better understanding the full potential of our engineered albumins in the fight against cancer – a fight where albumin-enabled therapeutics might provide an alternative treatment approach,”