Medical Device Daily Correspondent

ZICHRON YAAKOV, Israel – Start-up NanoPass Technologies (Haifa, Israel) reported that it, together with Glaxo-SmithKline’s (GSK; London) Biopharmaceutical Center of Excellence for Drug Discovery, has secured a 450,000 grant from the Britech Foundation to optimize its new MicroPyramid method of vaccine delivery.

The technology holds promise to effectively and painlessly administer vaccines intra-epidermally, where they can be most effective.

“Conventional needles are too large to do this, and other transdermal technologies are either incapable of or are inefficient at delivering large molecules,” said NanoPass founder Shuki Yeshurun. “MicroPyramid technology may be able to lower the dose required to provide the same immune response, reduce the need for booster shots, and potentially improve the protection rate by stimulating multiple immune pathways.”

From 36 to 200 micro-needles are packed into a 6 mm-wide, silicon chip-based array. Each micro-needle is less than a half-millimeter in diameter.

NanoPass is a hybrid firm between biotechnology and nanotechnology, leveraging its microchip discoveries that are bundled into the MicroPyramid delivery device.

Two months ago, the company signed an agreement with GSK’s Biopharmaceutical Center of Excellence for Drug Discovery to develop the MicroPyramid for delivery of vaccines.

NanoPass CEO Yotam Levin, MD., said that grant, “will support our development efforts for the next two years and allow us to expedite our progress.”

“This is a perfect example of the benefits to be gained through UK-Israel collaboration, harnessing synergistic technologies,” said Britech Foundation chief executive Tony Warwick. Britech is a bilateral UK and Israel government organization that has supported more than 30 collaborative R&D ventures since its founding in 1999.

Britech’s initial five-year charter was renewed by the two governments late last year. Two new funding programs will be announced soon under the Britech 2 initiative.

NanoPass, founded in 2000, is venture-backed by the Ofer Group. It has several active collaborations in various application fields and is about to launch a new round of financing.

First birthday, first financing round

Flexicath, a start-up firm operating in the Misgav Technology Center in the Galilee, has raised $380,000 in its first financing round from Trendlines International Ltd., a private investor.

Flexicath General Manager Ronen Radomski, with R&D Director Shai Amishar and Medical Advisor Paul Froom, founded the company less than a year ago.

The company is developing an intravenous catheter that can remain inserted in a vein for up to 20 days by a fairly simple procedure, avoiding repeated insertions during the period of treatment, and significantly reducing procedure costs, infection risks and vein punctures. It is completing production of its prototype for use in clinical trials at Meir Hospital (Kfar Saba, Israel), which are scheduled to begin before this summer.

Flexicath says 100 million intravenous drug treatments are carried out every year worldwide.

Elron adds to device firm holdings

Elron Electronic Industries’ (Tel Aviv, Israel) report last week that it was investing $2.9 million in start-up NuLens (Herzliya, Israel), adds to Elron’s portfolio of holdings in Israeli device companies.

NuLens is developing a fully accommodative intraocular lens with more than 10 diopters of demonstrated accommodative power, and is aiming for 30 diopters. It currently is in pre-clinical trials with its lens, made of soft polymer encased in a flexible membrane.

With its anticipated 25% holding in NuLens after two installments are completed, Elron will have substantial holdings in Impliant (28%), Notal Vision (26%), Oncura (25%), Galil Medical (20%), Given Imaging (15%) and InnoMed (14%).