Nanomedicine vs solid cancers
Pharma in silica inc. is a preclinical stage pharmaceutical development company based in Quebec City's Parc Technologique.
The company develops the OpPacli™ nanocarrier, a nano-sized silica sphere designed to increase the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of paclitaxel, a cytotoxic molecule used daily to treat several cancers (annual sales > $3B USD, growing).
A treatment at the service of the patient
The efficacy of the versions of paclitaxel currently prescribed (Taxol®, 1995; Abraxane®, 2005) is limited by their scattered distribution and degrading side effects experienced by patients.
Pharma in silica's hypothesis: OpPacli, its 3rd generation paclitaxel, will endow chemotherapy with a therapeutic window. This means that clinicians will administer a dose of paclitaxel sufficient to reduce or eliminate the tumor while sparing the patient's well-being.
Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers.
Pharma in silica is currently working on the preclinical safety and efficacy study of OpPacli and on the regulatory submissions for a multi-center Canada/US clinical trial for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
The same nanodrug may eventually be used for other solid tumors: breast, then ovary, pancreas and liver.
The OpKemo™ process
OpPacli seen by transmission electron microscopy
The development of an effective and lenient chemotherapy proceeds from OpKemo™ technology. It is an innovative chemical synthesis (3 patent-pending families) taking advantage of silica, a versatile, biocompatible, and rarely practiced material.
Pharma in silica scientists are developing a tiny truck hermetically sealed with an anti-cancer drug, ready for administration.
OpPacli™, the first product candidate
OpPacli, the first carrier, is designed to:
- protect the patient's healthy tissue during injection and circulation in the bloodstream,
- deliver a significant amount of the drug to the tumor, and
- promote safe disposal of nanocarrier.
The OpKemo process can be adapted to most hydrophobic small molecules to
a) improve the therapeutic profile of other drugs currently dedicated to chemotherapy
b) rescue promising drug candidates that are difficult to formulate, administer or bring to destination.
A multidisciplinary team of 10 chemists, technicians and pharmacists is at the heart of the development of the OpKemo process and the OpPacli product candidate.
The work is supported by academic collaborators specialized in nanomedicine and cytotoxic drugs and seasoned consultants, under the guidance of François Arcand, an experienced life sciences entrepreneur (Medicago, Pharmaceutical Moleculture Conferences, ERA Biotech).
Pharma in silica benefits from strategic collaborations, notably with SiliCycle (materials chemistry, characterization) and CHU de Québec/Université Laval (cell and mouse studies, characterization, imaging).
Facilities and funding
The company operates its own high security/high control facilities. It is financed by individual investors, Investissement Québec and its co-founders, SiliCycle and François Arcand.
The company thanks the City of Quebec, MITACS, NSERC and MÉI for their financial support, as well as Axelys, PRIMA Quebec and Quebec International for their intermediation.