Luna Lab’s drug delivery portfolio includes unique developmental efforts aimed at targeted therapeutic release, stabilization of vaccines, advanced MRI contrast agents, and sustained drug release agents. We work across multiple fields to deliver unique and functional technologies to advance therapeutic delivery.
Biostablization of Therapeutics
Luna’s unique biostabilizing sol-gel is currently being implemented for use in developing shelf-stable pediatric formulations of anti-Tb drugs. The drugs, which typically have stringent storage requirements, acquire thermostability when encapsulated within our unique sol-gel excipient, and are currently being formulated into chewable gummy and troche drugs for increased pediatric acceptance. Recent work on stabilized rabies vaccines demonstrated the ability of live attenuated virus vaccines to maintain immunoactivity in mouse challenge models following 4 weeks of storage at 40 degrees celcius, an unheard of accomplishment.
Carbon Nanotube Delivery Systems
Luna develops carbon nanotube (CNT) based drug delivery systems. Well defined, biocompatible short CNTs can be controlled with precise length, diameters and surface coating that could enable biomimicry to virus particles. Luna has developed a novel CNT functionalization and purification method to prepare highly defined and pure samples for bioconjugation to proteins, DNAs/RNAs for the development of enhanced vaccines. These CNTs were demonstrated to be easily recognized and consequently taken up efficiently by antigen presenting cells (APCs) for the induction of much greater immune responses when compared to recombinant protein antigens alone.
Luna also has extensive experience with unique Trimetasphere® technology. Trimetasphere stands for trimetallic metallofullerene nanospheres, and it is commonly referred to TNT EMFs (trimetallic nitride template endohedral metallofullerenes) in literature. Luna licensed the patent for these nanomaterials and named them Trimetasphere. Trimetasphere is a class of novel fullerenes comprising 80 carbons (C80) forming a sphere which encloses a complex of three metal atoms bound together by a nitrogen atom M3N. Trimetasphere has a chemical formula of M3N@C80 (the symbol @ denotes that M3N is encapsulated inside the C80 carbon cage). A variety of metals can be entrapped inside the carbon cage, including scandium, yttrium and the lanthanides. Luna is equipped to produce large quantities of Trimetasphere carbon nanomaterials in our Danville, Virginia manufacturing facility with semi-automation assisted production lines. Trimetasphere is being developed as in vivo magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents.
Luna’s Trimetasphere technology is suitable for T1-weighted MR imaging. T1 imaging is generally preferred by oncologists because it generates “brighter” rather than “darker” images.. It has remarkably high imaging sensitivity (up to 25x), i.e. very high signal strength (up to 25 times higher than today’s contrast agents), resulting in less material injected into blood to achieve the same imaging quality, or higher imaging resolution, more lesion details at the same dose. Further, it has extended circulation time (up to 5x) in the body allowing physicians to make more detailed and extensive examinations. Today’s contrast agents rapidly distribute in the tissues leading to a short time-window for imaging and low contrast. Luna Labs has also worked to implement cellular targeting with it’s Trimetasphere technology, allowing targeted binding and imaging of atherosclerotic plaque in vivo. Luna has identified receptors on these plaque lesions and developed a class of MRI contrast agents that specifically bind to these receptors. Mice injected i.v. with the ATCA had a striking enhanced T1-weighted image of the plaque attached in the mouse aorta that could not be seen prior to injection. Of note is the observation that the imaging agent accumulates over time, suggesting it circulates through the blood for periods long enough for biomarker targeting to occur.