Multistage Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Systems



The Market: The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States alone, over 1,000,000 people are diagnosed with cancer.  Many cancer deaths, specifically from cancers of the colon, breast, rectum, and uterine cervix cancers, could be significantly reduced with earlier detection and improved targeted delivery of chemotherapeutics. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2010 alone, the cost of medical treatments for cancer was $125 billion. Worldwide, GMR Data anticipates that drug companies’ sales of cancer therapeutics should exceed $143 billion by 2023.


The Need: A huge unmet need exists for the personalized delivery of novel therapeutic agents. One of the most difficult challenges in treating cancer is in targeting the cytotoxic effects of the drugs to the cancer cells without damaging normal host cells. 


Technology: Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have developed a novel multistage nanoparticle drug delivery platform technology. The technology enables the engineering of tailorable particles that delivers the active therapeutic and/or imaging agents directly to the site within the body where the payload is needed.  The initial focus may be applied to the vascular and oncological areas, although application to a variety of other therapeutic areas, including use in fracture putty to regenerate bone, is possible due to the programmability of these novel nanovectors.  The platform basis is a tunable, porous, micro-engineered silicon nano- or microparticle fabricated using a novel combination of synthetic and lithographic methods. The particles can then be further derived with programmed functional stages. The ease of modification inherent to each stage of the system expands administration options, where systemic or local delivery methods can be adapted to suit therapeutic need.



  • Highly engineered shape better mimics natural biological particles, potentially allowing for better targeting of specific tissue while eluding typical biological defense mechanisms which prevent delivery
  • Multiple stages can allow for staged delivery of different therapeutics independent of each other
  • Tunable pore size and surface charge for the delivery particles provides design flexibility of the each stage of the delivery particle designs, potentially enabling delivery of both small molecules as well as environmentally sensitive therapeutics
  • Exterior surfaces can be modified with various targeting moieties, making the system tailorable to a variety of tissues and environments


IP Position:

Issued US Patent Nos. 8,563,022; 8,361,508; 8,173,115; 8,568,877; 8,920,625

Issued Chinese Patent Nos. 200780037424.3; 200880022019.9

Pending US Application Nos. 14/725,570; 14/538,065, 15/270,324



Inventors:         Dr. Mauro Ferrari

License Available: world-wide; exclusive or non-exclusive

UTHealth Ref. Nos.: 2006-0057, 2007-0042, 2007-0002, 2007-0028, 2008-0032, 2010-0005, 2010-0053

Patent Information:

The preceding is intended to be a non-confidential and limited description of a novel technology created at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). This promotional material is not comprehensive in scope and should not replace company’s diligence in a thorough evaluation of the technology. Please contact the Office of Technology Management for more information regarding this technology.
For Information, Contact:
Christine Flynn
Associate Director, Licensing and New Venture Development
University of Texas Health Science Center At Houston
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