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New biotech boost for pSivida

WA-BASED biotechnology company pSivida has signed a second collaborative agreement with UK-based multinational PowderJect Pharmaceuticals.

The collaboration, done through pSivida’s UK subsid-iary pSiMedica, represents the second licensing opportunity for BioSilicon.

The new agreement involves researching the potential of using the BioSilicon technology in PowderJect’s needle-free injection delivery system.

The PowderJect injection system delivers microscopic vaccine particles into the outer layer of the skin, which is rich in immune cells. Research has found this approach can significantly enhance the immune response to vaccines.

It also offers the potential of improved safety, due to the lack of needles, and advantages in economy and convenience.

BioSilicon is a non-toxic form of porous silicon that can be impregnated with drugs. It is also biodegradable. It is drawn from the same type of silicon used to make computer chips.

Its possible uses range from temporary scaffolding in reconstructive bone surgery to site-specific drug delivery.

pSiMedica also has been applying BioSilicon to the treatment of osteoporosis in a six-month research program in conjunction with Kings College London led by Jonathon Powell.

Dr Powell believes monomeric silic acid – created when the body breaks down porous silicon – can help treat osteoporosis.

Part of BioSilicon’s biocompatibility is its controllable degradation into monomeric silic acid in the body.

The osteoporosis program is expected to move to clinic trials in 2002.

pSivida was created from former horticultural company Sumich.

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