The two mystery companies could not be revealed by Altea sources, but both will be examining the feasibility of using Altea's patented transdermal delivery technology for the delivery of their protein drugs.
Details of the two drugs being evaluated could again not be disclosed, but both are currently commercially available as injectable solutions. The pharmaceutical companies involved have the option to extend the licence agreement to encompass development and commercialisation of the patch product.
Traditional transdermal systems are generally limited to very potent, lipid-soluble drugs with a low molecular weight of less than 500 daltons. Altea's PassPort transdermal patch system, however, can be used with small water-soluble drugs, water-soluble macro-molecular drugs and vaccines at doses up to tens of milligrams.
The technology is designed to deliver sustained therapeutic levels of highly water-soluble drugs, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, peptides and proteins into the body without the need for needles or pumps, allowing a more convenient and cost-effective treatment.
"We can take a product that had to be injected because it simply couldn't be delivered any other way, and deliver it transdermally just as efficaciously," said Altea vice president of business development, Steve Damon.
The company's patented technology uses short bursts of focused thermal energy to create hundreds of tiny micropores on the surface of the skin, which then facilitate the flow of the chosen drug into the body.
The process is painless as the thermal energy is delivered in such a way as to avoid penetrating through to the heat-sensitive nerve endings in the skin. The product is very simple to use, consisting only of an applicator (where the electrical pulse is generated) and the reservoir patch which remains on the skin for controlled release of the drug.
The company has several transdermal products in clinical trials in the US, including an insulin patch providing basal levels of the hormone for diabetes treatment, an apomorphine hydrochloride patch for management of advanced Parkinson's disease, and a fentanyl citrate patch for moderate to severe pain management.
Back in February 2006, Altea inked its first collaboration agreement regarding its PassPort System technology. The deal was with Japanese firm Teikoku Seiyaku for the development, manufacture, and commercialisation of a transdermal therapy for Parkinson's disease. This latest announcement takes the company's total number of collaborations to three.
One of the firm's most promising products currently in development is their insulin transdermal patch, and news regarding its progress in clinical trials is expected in the next few days.