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Jenna C. Taylor
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Karen K. Kaplan,
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Director of University
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Cynthia J. Johnson, PhD
Director of Development Communications

Kevin J. Foyle, MBA, CFRE
Vice President
for Development

Texas Invests Record $3.5 Million in Startup Company Co-founded by IMM's Mauro Ferrari

NanoMedical Systems Inc., (NMS), an Austin-based startup co-founded by Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), to improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer agents and other medications, has received a record $3.5 million Commercialization Award through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF).

NMS was one of six companies that received the ETF awards, which were announced by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in November.

The grant will help accelerate the completion of engineering and pre-clinical testing for a device, which will allow for a controlled dose of medicine to be released into the bloodstream over many weeks or months. The device will be a safer, more reliable and less costly alternative to a long series of injections or clinical visits.

"From the information I have, this is the largest commercialization award (to private companies in collaboration with a university for product development) awarded from the emerging technology fund to date. They've gone to $3 million twice and $2 million five times out of 48 commercialization awards," said Wayne R. Roberts, associate vice president for public policy at the UT Health Science Center at Houston.

The company's basic technology was developed by Ferrari, who is deputy chairman of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint venture among UTHealth, The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Each small silicon chip through which the NMS device will deliver medication into the bloodstream has 100,000 nanochannels, each precisely dimensioned from engineered materials to a size near that of a drug molecule. The company is focusing on an anti-cancer drug that is used in long-term therapy for its first commercially viable product. Its research and development activities over the next year will include further design and testing of the device's chip and capsule, animal studies, and applications with the federal Food and Drug Administration.

"We can make a real difference in patient care," Ferrari said. "I am confident that the work we are doing will have benefits beyond cancer, with applications to cardiovascular and infectious diseases, among others. We will continue to explore new approaches in civilian medicine, but also in space and military medicine, with the support of the sponsors of our university laboratory research: NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health."

The NMS device, called a Personalized Molecular Drug-Delivery System, or PMDS, is a small capsule designed to be implanted just under the skin in a simple office procedure. As development continues, the capsule will be made even smaller because it will contain mostly the active pharmaceutical agent and almost none of the bulk solution in which an injectable drug is usually dissolved.

By Rob Cahill, Institutional Advancement