[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 10-Jul-2012
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Contact: Susan Rosenbaum
srosenbaum@laurensciences.com
212-737-0455
Lauren Sciences LLC

Lauren Sciences LLC's research team at Ben-Gurion University awarded Campbell Foundation grant to develop a V-Smart therapeutic for neuro-HIV

New York, N.Y., July 10, 2012 -- Lauren Sciences LLC, a privately-held biotechnology company furthering development of its new V-Smart™ nanovesicle platform technology, announced today the award of a grant from The Campbell Foundation to its research team at Ben-Gurion University. The grant from Campbell will support development of the novel V-Smart™ nanovesicles for systemic delivery of tenofovir across the blood brain barrier (BBB) to the brain for treatment of neuro-HIV. Tenofovir is one of the most frequently used antiretroviral drugs in the multi-drug treatment of HIV infection. However, since tenofovir does not cross the BBB following systemic administration, the treatment is not effective against viral reservoirs in the central nervous system (CNS). The persistence of HIV in the CNS (called, neuro-HIV) is a major contributor to HIV-associated cognitive impairment and is perceived to be a major cause of the inability to completely control systemic HIV despite long-term highly active anti-retroviral treatment (HAART).

"On behalf of our research team at Ben-Gurion University, we thank The Campbell Foundation for this award," said Susan Rosenbaum, Esq., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lauren Sciences. "The Campbell Foundation's award provides an opportunity to develop our innovative V-Smart™ drug delivery system for neuro-HIV and it recognizes the strong potential of our delivery system to overcome the challenge of developing drugs that cross the blood brain barrier."

"One of our Foundation's major goals is to find a disease-modifying therapy for HIV/AIDS," said Ken Rapkin, Program Officer of The Campbell Foundation. "The challenges associated with the delivery of HIV drugs through the blood brain barrier represent a critical unmet need in the field of AIDS research."

"Optimized V-Smart™ vesicles formulated with tenofovir has promise as an effective new treatment for patients," said Irwin Hollander, Ph.D., Vice President, Research and Development, Lauren Sciences. "We hope it will be able to stop proliferation of, or even help eradicate, the neuro-HIV that is presumed to cause cognitive impairment and systemic HIV reinfection in patients under long-term treatment. It is anticipated that our successful delivery of tenofovir to the brain will lead to future efficacy studies in neuro-HIV pre-clinical models and, thereafter, clinical studies in patients with HIV."

"Our pre-clinical studies so far demonstrate that our novel V-Smart™ nano-sized vesicles encapsulate small molecules, peptides, proteins and nucleic acids, transport them across the BBB and release their encapsulated contents in the brain," said Eliahu Heldman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Ben-Gurion University and Chief Scientific Officer of Lauren Sciences LLC. "Our goal is to target the areas in the brain that are affected by HIV and reduce the viral load in those brain regions. The success of this project should provide more effective treatment for AIDS patients and improve their lives."

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About the V-Smart™ Platform

V-Smart™ is a platform technology that can be used for a variety of applications, including delivery of therapeutic drugs. The V-Smart™ drug delivery system is based on novel nanovesicles that have advantages over other nanovesicles, such as liposomes. Major features of the V-Smart™ vesicles include: high stability, large encapsulation capacity, ability to carry many kinds of drugs across the BBB following systemic delivery, potential targeting capability and controlled release of encapsulated drugs at specific target sites.

About Lauren Sciences LLC

Lauren Sciences LLC is a privately-held biotechnology company focused on using its V-Smart™ platform to create a robust pipeline of therapeutics, including central nervous system (CNS)-active drugs that normally do not cross the BBB. The company's lead programs are for the treatment of: Parkinson's disease (funded with the award of a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation); neuro-HIV (funded with the award of a grant from The Campbell Foundation) and other CNS disorders, such as Alzheimer's, GBM (brain cancer) and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Lauren Sciences exclusively licensed the V-Smart™ technology platform and intellectual property estate from B.G. Negev Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University, Israel, where the company's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Eliahu Heldman, is Professor Emeritus and he, with Drs. Sarina Grinberg and Charles Linder, developed the V-Smart™ technology and lead the Lauren Sciences research team.

About HIV- AIDS

Human immunodeficiency virus infection/Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is no known cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, however, long term antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. However, the persistence of HIV in the CNS (called, neuro-HIV) is a major contributor to HIV-caused cognitive impairment and is perceived to be a major cause of the inability to completely control systemic HIV despite long-term HAART. HIV/AIDS is a major health problem in many parts of the world, and is considered a pandemic. As of 2010, approximately 34 million people have HIV globally. Of these, approximately 16.8 million are women and 3.4 million are less than 15 years old. HIV/AIDS resulted in about 1.8 million deaths in 2010, down from 3.1 million in 2001. Since AIDS was first recognized in 1981, it has led to nearly 30 million deaths (as of 2009).

About The Campbell Foundation

The Campbell Foundation was established as a private, independent foundation in 1986 by the late Richard Campbell Zahn. It was Mr. Zahn's wish that his foundation support nonprofit organizations conducting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and related conditions and illnesses. The focus of the Campbell Foundation's funding lies in alternative, nontraditional avenues of research that will have direct clinical impact/relevancy to the HIV care/research community within five to seven years. The Board of Directors remains dedicated to pursuing Mr. Zahn's original goals. The Foundation's first year of substantial funding was in 1995. Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) has identified The Campbell Foundation as one of the top 25 private philanthropic institutions supporting seminal research about HIV/AIDS.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Established in 1969 with the mandate to bring development to the Negev region, BGU is internationally-recognized for its unique pioneering spirit that combines outstanding academics and research with a commitment to the community. With more than 20,000 students, five faculties and a number of internationally-acclaimed research institutes, the University has become a world leader in interdisciplinary research in cutting-edge fields that range from desert studies to nano- and biotechnology, Hebrew literature to international medicine.

About BGN Technologies

BGN Technologies is the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University, responsible for the commercialization of know-how and inventions of the University's researchers. Through the development of novel technologies and creative partnering with industry and investors, BGN files worldwide patent applications on behalf of BGU and manages BGU's large patent portfolio. BGN is continually seeking prospective strategic partners, licensees and investors for the commercialization of its inventions and know-how in the diverse fields such as biotech, pharmaceuticals, drug delivery, medical devices, information technology, security, electro-optics, nanotechnologies, chemical processes, agro-technology, environment and alternative energy.

Contact: Susan Rosenbaum, Esq. of Lauren Sciences LLC, 212-737-0455, info@laurensciences.com.



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