Discoveries in technology, medicine, and nutrition are emerging with accelerating speed and improving our health and quality of life. Brought to you by Lonza, “A View On” podcast is a series of short conversations with industry leaders. Join us to discuss new trends that are impacting scientific research, drug discovery and business.

The series of monthly conversations with pharma, biotech and nutrition leaders from across industry and academia covers a wide range of topics from 3D bioprinting to therapeutic cannabinoids. In under ten minutes, each podcast takes the audience on a rapid but deep dive into an exciting development that promises to profoundly change or even revolutionize healthcare.


EPISODE 2: Cell-penetrating peptides for cancer treatment

New Arsenal in the Battle Against Cancer: Pharmaceutical Smart Bombs Promise Less Collateral Damage for Patients

Cybrexa Therapeutics CEO Per Hellsund and CSO Vishwas Paralkar talk to Lonza about how their enterprise is shaping the future of cancer treatment with cell-penetrating peptides.

One of the biggest obstacles to safely eliminating cancerous cells is that most therapies also negatively impact a patient's healthy organs and tissues, known as bystanders. This notorious problem has hindered effective treatment since the beginning of oncology and often has devastating effects on patients’ quality of life. One novel strategy pursued by Cybrexa Therapeutics is the design of treatments that specifically target solid tumors made of cancer cells by taking advantage of one of their universal biomarkers – acidity. The company has developed a platform that leverages the low pH environment inherent to cancer cell metabolism. By using cell-penetrating peptides bearing an anticancer cargo load, their platform brings the treatment directly inside tumors, leaving healthy cells alone and minimizing bystander killings. This smart anti-tumor technology promises to be applicable to a wide swath of patients and reduce side effects of cancer treatment

Curious to Know More?
Listen to the conversation between Lonza and Cybrexa Therapeutics researchers in this episode of the podcast "A View On."


KEY TERMS:

Acidity of cancer cells: Current research shows that cancer cells exhibit a type of cell metabolism known as aerobic glycolysis, a process that generates lactic acid and creates a more acidic environment in and around tumors.

Cell-penetrating peptide: Peptides are strings of amino acids that can be utilized for drug delivery. They are wobbly in structure and ineffective at penetrating cells under normal pH levels but rigidify when reaching acidic environments and can then enter the targeted cell.

Linkers: A chemical bond that allows for a drug to attach to its carrier and be delivered to a specific target. For Cybrexa, this bond connects the peptide to the cytotoxic molecule or DNA inhibitor for efficient targeting of cancer cells and tumors.

Cytotoxic drugs: Cytotoxic drugs in cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy, are not only toxic to cancer cells but do damage to other healthy cells, creating unwanted side effects to treatment. New research is showing how, when combined with cell-penetrating peptides, cytotoxic molecule delivery can be limited to the acidic environments of cancer cells, thereby avoiding off-target toxicity and bystander killings.

DNA repair inhibitors: A relatively recent form of cancer treatment that oncologists often use in conjunction with chemotherapy. Inhibiting the repair mechanisms of cancer cells effectively turns the table on the tumor, the cancerous cells of which have hijacked the healthy DNA of a patient and use the cells natural repairing properties to become resistant to chemotherapy. By employing DNA repair inhibitors targeted specifically to cancer cells, researchers hope to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduce its side effects.

Dose-limiting toxicity: When the side effects of a drug or other cancer treatment prohibit a dose increase that would otherwise be beneficial to the cancer therapy. By removing this boundary, therapies could be much more efficient in destroying cancerous cells in the body.


  • From the International Space Station to Desktop Printers, 3D Bioprinting Is Revolutionizing Tissue Model Research

    Allevi CEO Ricky Solorzano talks to Lonza about how his company is empowering scientists to print their own tissue models

    Scientists have been printing cells for decades, but with the arrival of 3D bioprinters, getting printed tissue models to behave like living tissue has proved elusive. That is why angiogenesis and vascularization are two holy grails of 3D bioprinting. A recent article published by researchers at biotech company Allevi demonstrates breakthrough research in which a skin tissue model printed on one of their desktop models showed both processes simultaneously. The April 2020 publication in ACS Biomaterials, Science & Engineering illustrates just how fast bioprinting is moving, producing results that were unimaginable five years ago, facilitating the study of tissue models in basic science, disease modeling, and drug discovery. But Allevi is not stopping at Earth-bound breakthroughs. The US company has also secured funding for simultaneous bioprinting experiments on the International Space Station.

    Curious to Know More?
    Listen to the conversation between Lonza and Allevi CEO Ricky Solorzano about both the current state of bioprinting and its future applications in the first episode of the podcast “A View On.”

    KEY TERMS:

    Desktop 3D bioprinting: 3D bioprinting, a process similar to other additive manufacturing techniques, uses bioinks and biomaterials to create biomedical parts for research like skin tissue and organoids such as corneas. These printers have traditionally been voluminous, complicated, and costly. Allevi’s desktop 3D bioprinters are not only smaller, they are easy to use and significantly less expensive than larger models.

    Bio-extrusion: A standard 3D printer at home or in a maker lab makes an object by adding material layer by layer. In bio-extrusion, bioinks are extruded from the nozzles and printed onto a biomaterial matrix.

    Bioink: A material composed of living cells and biopolymer gels that, once extruded by the printer, can be organised into tissues, organs, and organoids.

    Matrigel™: The trade name for the substrate used for culturing cells, essential in the bioprinting process as it is often the surface onto which the bioink is printed.

    Angiogenesis: From ancient Greek, literally the creation (genesis) of vessels (angio). In modern biology, the term refers to the formation of new blood vessels within a tissue. In bioprinting, the presence of angiogenesis means that the printed tissue is behaving and growing in a way that is akin to living tissue and is essential to the success of creating functional printed tissues and organs.

    Vascularization: Also related to the creation of blood vessels but, in contrast to angiogenesis, successful vascularization of a printed tissue is when an existing, printed structure of blood vessels is adopted by the tissue to delivering blood throughout the structure.

    Innervation: The process by which a tissue is supplied with nerves. In 3D bioprinting, supplying a printed tissue with nerves is the latest frontier of the technology as supplying tissue not only with blood but also nerves could possibly accelerate restoration of muscle function in vivo and create more complex tissue models for research on neurological diseases.

    For the above-mentioned article on angiogenesis and vascularization as well as the latest on bioprinting research, you can read more on the Allevi Blog.