MONTREAL - Supratek Pharma Inc.'s biotransport drug carrier technology has demonstrated it can increase the cellular uptake of antisense compounds.

Antisense products traditionally have suffered therapeutic efficacy problems because of their poor penetration through cellular membranes, Oleg Romar, chairman and CEO of Supratek, told BioWorld International.

The biotransport carrier technology is based on a concept that makes it possible to take a drug molecule and improve its biological and therapeutic activity without changing its molecular structure. The carrier complex is thermodynamically stable and capable of protecting a drug from enzymatic degradation as it circulates through the body. It can be used to improve a wide variety of drugs, including peptides, proteins and genes.

Research on Supratek's technology appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, Jan. 1, 1998. The paper, titled “Amphiphysin I Antisense oligonucleotides inhibit neurite outgrowth in cultured hippocampal neurons,“ was authored by Pietro De Camilli from the department of cell biology at Yale University School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn., and his research colleagues.

De Camilli reported on the effective delivery of antisense oligonucleotides to hippocampal neurons via Supratek's biotransport carrier technology. Amphiphysin I is a neuronal protein that concentrates in nerve terminals and appears to play a role in the development of axons.

The researchers attributed the powerful inhibition of amphiphysin I expression achieved by the antisense compounds to biotransport's ability to recruit oligonucleotides in self-assembling, water-soluble complexes. The carrier complexes also permitted a substantial reduction in the concentration of oligonucleotides required to inhibit protein expression. *