UCalgary researcher signs deal to develop nanomedicines for treatment of Type 1 diabetes
Photo courtesy Cumming School of Medicine
When Dr. Pere Santamaria arrived in Calgary in 1992 to join the Cumming School of Medicine, he never could have imagined he would make a groundbreaking discovery that would lead to a spinoff company. “When I arrived, I found out that the grant money I was expecting hadn’t come through,” says Santamaria, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases. “So I had an empty lab with no research assistants and no salary. I had to beg my supervisor to give me $10,000 to start my research.”
Despite the rocky start, Santamaria has achieved something many scientists dream of — making a discovery that has practical applications for health care. Santamaria’s discovery revolves around the use of nanoparticles coated in proteins to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
“They can be modified for different diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis without compromising the entire immune system,” Santamaria explains. “Instead, they basically work to reset the immune system.”
Nanomedicine’s unique mechanism has the potential to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry entirely. Developing a new class of drugs is rare. With the assistance of Innovate Calgary, Santamaria started a company, Parvus Therapeutics Inc., to represent the technology and explore ways of bringing it to market. Announced in April 2017, Parvus entered into an exclusive deal with the Swiss pharma giant Novartis, hopefully leading Continue reading