IBM's new hydrogel tech uses shear to make mAb delivery less stressful

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies

Using shear to make mAb delivery less stressful
Using shear to make mAb delivery less stressful
A new vitamin E-based hydrogel technology could improve how cancer busting mAbs are delivered and help biopharmas cut costs according to developer IBM.

The US computer giant developed the new hydrogel, in collaboration with researchers at Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), to extend the therapeutic half-life of the anti-breast cancer monoclonal antibody (mAb) Herceptin.

The gel consists of a vitamin E containing polycarbonate that forms a scaffold around an mAb cargo that, after being injected, gradually degrades releasing the biopharmaceutical slowly over time.

So far, so usual. But what makes the new gel distinct from other ‘depot’ delivery techs  - and particularly appropriate for application to large molecule biopharmaceuticals - is that it starts off as a liquid, as James Hedrick of IBM Research explained to

This hydrogel has unique rheological, or flow properties, that allow it to be transformed from a gel to a liquid with shear stress, allowing injection via a syringe, it causes minimal immune response, allows sustained delivery and degrades after its usefulness.”

This state change is possible because the hydrogel is 96% water Hedrick continued adding that “It is made of polymer at lower concentrations as compared to other hydrogel technologies​.”

To date the gel has only been used to deliver Herceptin in early phase studies, however, it has wider application according to Hedrick.

We have demonstrated that a number of cargos with molecular weights ranging from 145 to 145000 da can be released in a sustained way, and feel that this versatile platform will allow the delivery of a wide range of cargos in a sustained way​.”

He added that: "The hydrogel simply allows sustained release of the drug over a long time period. This minimizes patient inconvenience and reduces healthcare cost​."

Smarter pharma partners sought

IBM co-owns the intellectual property (IP) for the hydrogel with IBN and is currently looking for drug industry partners to help advance the technology Hedrick said, setting the project as part of the computer firm’s research strategy.

This work is part of IBM's Smarter Planet initiative that advances such breakthroughs in human health towards translational research. IBM and its collaborator IBN can bring it to a point in this translational process and after that we intend to partner with others that can advance to the clinic​.”

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