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EPFL and Novochizol to collaborate on designing more efficient immunotherapies

Life sciences

2 November 2023

Novochizol technology quantitatively transforms single linear chitosan molecules into cross-linked, uniformly sized nanospheres. Novochizol technology quantitatively transforms single linear chitosan molecules into cross-linked, uniformly sized nanospheres. | © Novochizol

A groundbreaking collaboration between EPFL’s Laboratory of Biomaterials for Immunoengineering and Novochizol aims to revolutionize cancer treatment.

Novochizol is a trailblazing start-up located at the BioArk life sciences campus in Monthey (canton of Valais), and specializes in the revolutionary transformation of chitosan—a naturally occurring biopolymer—into Novochizol, a technology that notably enhances the properties of standard chitosans. This innovation positions Novochizol as a versatile platform across diverse sectors including pharma, biotech, and agriculture, for its ability to improve drug delivery systems, particularly by facilitating local administration of treatments directly to disease sites with minimal systemic exposure.

Working in concert with Novochizol is the Laboratory of Biomaterials for Immunoengineering at EPFL, led by Prof. Li Tang. The lab is at the forefront of immunoengineering, an interdisciplinary field that marries the intricacies of immune responses with cutting-edge bioengineering techniques. Their mission is to develop novel, efficacious therapies against cancer and other diseases by intricately manipulating metabolic, cellular, and mechanical elements to modulate immunity with precision.

In the pursuit of cancer cures, the EPFL and Novochizol are embarking on a promising joint-venture to design immunotherapies with superior safety and efficacy. Backed by Innosuisse, the project has secured a budget of CHF 1.1 million, of which CHF 498,000 comes from an Innosuisse Grant, underscoring the confidence in this endeavor’s potential to make significant inroads against solid cancers.

The three-year research initiative will delve into the capabilities of Novochizol nanoparticles. These are designed to safely ferry potent doses of cancer-fighting agents like cytokines and immune checkpoint inhibitors directly into tumors. The innovative use of Novochizol seeks to overcome the current limitations of immunotherapies—ensuring the active agents remain protected and localized, thereby reducing the risk of systemic toxicities.

Redefining treatment paradigms in oncology

“Delivering cytokines and immune checkpoint inhibitors into tumors with Novochizol nanoparticles may redefine treatment paradigms in oncology,” said Prof. Li Tang. The collaboration with Novochizol could transform not only cancer treatments but also extend to various medical conditions that benefit from localized drug delivery.

Through this partnership, Novochizol’s adoption could accelerate numerous third-party drug development projects, potentially aiding millions of patients worldwide.

The synergy between the EPFL’s immunoengineering expertise and Novochizol’s novel nanoparticle delivery system embodies the pioneering spirit at the heart of modern medical research. With the financial impetus from Innosuisse, this collaboration may pave the way towards more effective and patient-friendly cancer treatments.