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Cancer drug technology gets $100K boost

April 28, 2009

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Technology born at Kansas University and nurtured into a promising application in western Lawrence is getting a $100,000 shot in the arm to test its effectiveness in improving delivery of cancer-fighting drugs.

SCF Technologies LLC, a research-and-development affiliate of Lawrence-based CritiTech Inc., this month secured a proof-of-concept grant from the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute.

SCF Technologies plans to use the money to finance testing of its technology: using supercritical carbon dioxide to both sterilize and dry drugs for storage, so that the drugs later can be mixed with a solution for injection into patients.

Normally, such drugs first are sterilized using a special filter, then dried for placement in a vial for storage and transport.

SCF Technologies’ technology would condense the process by drying and sterilizing the drug in the dispensing vial itself.

“We take two very expensive steps and combine them into one step that we believe will be less expensive than even one step,” said Charles Decedue, the company’s vice president for research and development. “If we can make it work, it could be a big deal.”

The company’s process wouldn’t be expected to replace current manufacturing processes entirely, as existing infrastructure alone runs in the “trillions of dollars,” Decedue said. But SCF Technologies hopes to show enough promise through its Phase 1 grant to secure a Phase 2 grant — maximum value, $750,000 — to move into development and commercialization.

The goal: apply the process to specific oncology drugs, to see how such medicines stand up.

“For the right drugs, and new drugs that come along, it could be a godsend,” said Decedue, retired executive director of the Higuchi Biosciences Center.

The initial grant won’t finance any new jobs, as SCF Technologies instead will contract with CritiTech personnel to conduct much of the testing. If results lead to a Phase 2 grant, Decedue said, then SCF Technologies likely would add to its payroll.

The company now has two employees: Decedue and Sam Campbell, president. Testing will be conducted at 4950 Research Park Way, in space leased from CritiTech.

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