By Rachael Green, Benzinga
Starpax Biopharma is preparing to start clinical trials this year with its patented Starpax cancer treatment platform across six unmet needs, including pancreatic, breast, colorectal, head & neck, uterus and prostate cancer. Solid cancers like the ones Starpax will focus on in the upcoming trials account for 89% of all cancer deaths – that’s largely due to the fact that solid tumors are so difficult to treat.
But Micheal Gareau, Founder and President of Starpax Biopharma, is on both a public and personal mission to change that after the disease claimed the lives of two brothers and his father and his third brother and sister are presently under treatment for cancer.
And he has an impressive team with deep expertise in the space around him to help achieve this goal. The non-exhaustive roster includes such notable names as André Monette, former President at Johnson & Johnson France, Dr. Lisa Matar, former President of Eli Lilly (Canada) and John Helou, former president of Pfizer (Canada), Dr. Jacques Jolivet, holder of the King Georges V Silver Jubilee Medal in Oncology, and Berthe Latreille, who recently retired as COO of JP Morgan Investment Bank in London, all active on the board of directors.
Here’s how this never-seen-before cancer treatment platform works.
Why Solid Cancers Are Harder To Treat
Anticancer drugs are usually injected in the blood network. The drug needs to circulate in 60,000 miles of blood vessels hoping to reach the tumor. Unfortunately studies have demonstrated that just 0.7% of the cancer drug dose actually reaches the tumor while nearly 99% of this toxic agent continues to circulate in the rest of the patient’s body causing unwanted side effects.
The second difficulty, after the drug reaches the tumor, is to be able to distribute the drug throughout its entire volume. As the tumor continues to grow, the blood vessels become chaotic, malfunctioning or collapse, creating hypoxic zones (low level of oxygen areas) and making it difficult to diffuse the drug throughout the whole volume of the tumor. Several studies around the world have demonstrated that 90% of the tumor volume receives little or no drug at all creating a major resistance to treatment that systemic chemotherapy or immunotherapy have never been able to solve. The Starpax technology has been conceived specifically to solve this resistance problem to treatment.
How The Starpax Platform Is Aiming To Overcome Those Challenges
Starpax combines the power of four scientific disciplines: microbiology, biochemistry, electromagnetism engineering and AI into a two-part platform – the Magnetodrones and the Polartrak – that work together to deliver cancer drugs directly into tumors, trap them inside the tumors and ensure the spread into every part of them.
Starpax Magnetodrones are self-propelled bacteria that are injected directly into a tumor. The non-pathogenic bacteria can swim between tumor cells without the need of blood vessels and are capable of carrying a variety of different cancer drugs. They die about 30 minutes to an hour after injection.
In order to ensure they are distributed in the entire volume of the tumor rather than just sitting near the injection site, Starpax uses magneto-aerotactic bacteria. That means they’re sensitive to very specific magnetic fields, and they naturally accumulate in low-oxygen environments. Their sensitivity to magnetic fields comes into play with the PolarTrak, a device inside which the patient is positioned, that creates unique magnetic fields.
Instead of leaving the Magnetodrones free-floating throughout the patient’s body, the Polartrak creates a magnetic sphere around the tumor that contains the Magnetodrones and forces them to distribute throughout the tumor’s whole volume without circulating in blood vessels. The combined result of the PolarTrak and Magnetodrones is a platform that can deliver powerful cancer-fighting drugs directly into a tumor and ensure that they are spread throughout its entire volume.
Results of preclinical trials, report 100% of the dose reached the tumor delivering 50 times more drug in the tumor with 800 less toxic molecules in the patient’s body, a major improvement over current systemic chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Subjects also reported a 100% remission rate with no significant side effects.
Building on those groundbreaking preclinical results, Starpax is preparing to start clinical trials this year to test the patented cancer treatment platform in humans. During those trials, a cancer drug that has already been approved by the FDA and has been in use by humans for over 20 years will be attached to the surface of Magnetodrones. The company is planning to seek fast-track designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help get this new technology to the patients who need it as soon as possible.
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