Chronic pain treatment of the future
In the city of Uppsala, a place with a long tradition in Life Sciences, a small company called Emplicure tries to change the way we treat chronic pain – by using ceramics. An EU grant from EIT Health and an Attractive Innovation Project award from Uppsala University are just a part of their portfolio. European and US markets are their primary focus.
New ways to control misuse of opioids are a huge need
The problem with misuse and abuse of opioids, such as codeine or morphine, has increased over the last decades and is a major health issue in the United States. The total economic burden is estimated to be 78.5 billion USD. Moreover, more than 70 000 Americans died of opioid overdoses just in alone. Europe is facing growing issues recently.
The FDA requests more products with preventive mechanisms against abuse and the formulations used today to treat chronic pain do not seem to work perfectly. By overriding the control release mechanism, the release rate of the opioid increases and the abuser obtains a fast onset of euphoria and is subjected to a high risk for lethal side effects. One of these frequently abused opioid products is controlled release tablets containing oxycodone.
The problem with the existing patches for transdermal delivery of fentanyl around-the-clock is related to increasing numbers of misuse and abuse by oral ingestion, inhalation by smoking and injection after the dissolution of the patch.
Novel ceramic patch to fill the gap
Emplicure has developed several products using groundbreaking materials and technology.
One of them is a ceramic patch for transdermal delivery, structured in a way that becomes an obstacle for abuse. This unique ceramic patch developed by Emplicure, based on a ceramic formulation provides this type of prevention. The product is unique because the active substance is incorporated in a ceramic matrix with high mechanical strength and resistance against extraction in different solvents. The next step for this product is to enter the clinical phase.
“We have received approval for one of our patents in the US, which is an important market for us”, says Bradenberg
Inhalation for early onset of effect
The transdermal delivery is not the only way to deal with pain. Emplicure focuses on developing an oral alternative as well. Many diseases and symptoms, especially pain often requires fast relief. The company uses the groundbreaking inhalation technology based on ceramic materials, where the active pharmaceutical substance is incorporated into the material and a ceramic dose unit is formed.
Solution for patients afraid of needles
The last product in a developmental phase is probably most exciting for the smallest patients! This alternative for drug delivery, a microneedle technology using self-setting bioceramics, incorporates the active substance in the ceramic material which is molded into microneedles. Since the needles are in the micro-scale, the application is pain-free.
Research and recognition
One of the biggest assets of Emplicure is the team itself. Experts in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as research.
”Through solid research and strong collaboration, innovative ceramic materials have been made available in new pharmaceutical technologies and formulations,” adds Bredenberg.
The innovative efforts of professor in Applied Material Science at Uppsala University, Håkan Engqvist, founder and Board member was awarded Uppsala University Innovation Award Hjärnäpplet 2018 for the outstanding transference of knowledge from the University to a company. The work of Emplicure AB has been recognized in Europe too. Last year, a grant of 50 000 EUR from EIT Health, a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT) has been awarded to the company to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.
Uppsala BIO adds value
“The next step for Emplicure is to raise more funding in 2019. The company is ready for scaling up the business and to enter the clinical phase for the transdermal patch. The goal is to out-license the project to larger pharmaceutical companies for the final clinical study, registration and marketing” finishes Susanne Bredenberg, explaining that cluster organizations such as Uppsala BIO offer good network platform and information, as well as education in the form of events.
“Marketing of the companies and products is also an important part, especially for smaller companies, both nationally and internationally and which I like to see more of”, concludes Bredenberg.
More information: https://www.emplicure.com/