AstraZeneca signs dendrimer drug delivery deal with Australian tech firm

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

A dendrimer's many surface points of attachment allows various delivery enhancements went conjugated with a drug molecule
A dendrimer's many surface points of attachment allows various delivery enhancements went conjugated with a drug molecule

Related tags Pharmacology

AstraZeneca has licensed Starpharma’s Dendrimer Drug Delivery (DEP) platform to enhance the pharmaceutical properties in candidates in its oncology pipeline.

The global Pharma Giant has been working with Australia’s Starpharma for a number of years, but - after a deal announced today - AstraZeneca will use the technology to investigate a range of cancer compounds currently in early phase development.

“This platform appears to deliver significant advantages over the initial candidate alone, in terms of fine tuning the release rate and also improving the pharmaceutical properties,”​ AstraZeneca spokesperson Karen Birmingham told

“We are not disclosing the initial compound at this time, but we do have scope to investigate the platform with other candidates,”​ she continued. As the project is in the very early stages, longer-term development plans and potential tech transfers have not yet been decided, she added.

AstraZeneca will pay $2m (€1.8m) upfront, with Starpharma set to receive up to $64m based on certain development milestones, and potentially $60m annually for each successful candidate. Starpharma estimates each product could be worth around $450m.

“The agreement clearly illustrates both the commercial potential and platform nature of Starpharma’s DEP drug delivery technology,”​ Starpharma CEO Jackie Fairley said. “The fact that this deal is structured for multiple products underlines the real potential for additional upside for both companies.”

DEP Technology

Starpharma’s DEP platform can be used to enhance the delivery of small and large drug molecules, proteins and peptides, the Melbourne, Australia-based company says.

The synthesised dendrimers have a number of surface points of attachment, each of which can be modified to achieve certain functionalities.

When conjugated with a drug, the dendrimer scaffolds release the molecule in a designed and controlled manner which can help increase solubility of the molecule, control its half-life, improve its efficacy, and help target specific organs, receptors or tissue.

Today’s deal follows AstraZeneca’s extension of an existing collaboration with Starpharma in May, which has seen some success in preclinical studies of the DEP platform on another undisclosed oncology candidate.

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