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eventually came up with, VivaGel, is currently undergoing clinical trials and has been granted Fast Track drug review status in the United States by the FDA.
Tomalia left DNT in late 2007, but remains affiliated with the National Dendrimer and Nanotechnology Center at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. His work there, along with others in the state, has helped establish Michigan as a center for dendrimer research.
Starpharma is using a variety of the molecules called polylysine dendrimers, which are about to go off patent. Other dendrimer companies, like rival Dendritech of Midland, MI, also use polylysine dendrimers. So, to keep a proprietary edge, and to address questions of cost and toxicity that have plagued dendrimers since their invention, DNT introduced its so-called Priostar line of dendrimers about three years ago.
The company says that Priostar dendrimers are not only less expensive than rivals’ products, but are less time-consuming to produce. Priostar dendrimers are made using “click chemistry,” what Tomalia has called “a versatile new strategy” for producing dendrimers in which different components or attributes can be added, assembly-line style.
But exactly how Priostar dendrimers are being used, beyond the collaboration with the unnamed agricultural firm, Heinzelmann won’t say. He would only exlain that the partnership is “one of our big forays into industrial settings … to provide near-term revenues.” How long will it take to develop a commercial product? “That’s confidential,” he says.
Priostar dendrimers are also seeing some success in cosmetics; active ingredients can be attached to the molecules and delivered under the skin. But which cosmetic companies is DNT partnering with? Heinzelmann pauses and says, again, “That’s not publicly available.”
Pretty much all he can say is that he’s confident that 30 years of research and development on the life sciences applications of dendrimers will pay off in the form of industrial applications as well.
“We are working as hard as we can to get something out in the near term,” Heinzelmann says.