Ready for Transfer

NCI’s Polymeric Delivery Platform for Therapeutics

Dept. of Health and Human Services

Laboratory: Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Technology: Polymeric Delivery Platform for Therapeutics

Opportunity: This novel NIH technology is available for licensing and research collaboration opportunities.

Details: Drug delivery technologies have long claimed the ability to selectively deliver therapeutic cargo to target cells. Despite advances in nanomedicine and drug delivery systems, there are no targeted nanoscale drug delivery technologies on the market. Thus, there is still tremendous potential in improved therapeutic efficacy when targeted drug delivery is achieved. 

Investigators at the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) developed a drug delivery platform that targets scavenger receptor A1 (SR-A1), a receptor highly expressed in macrophages, monocytes, mast cells, dendritic cells (myeloid lineages), and endothelial cells. The platform is based on the anionic polymer poly (L-lysine succinylated), which contains side chains with pendant carboxylic acids that allow conjugation of small molecule drugs through hydrolysable ester bonds and have demonstrated drug release half-lives greater than 10 hours. Peptide therapeutics and vaccine antigens can also be conjugated to the polymer platform. Through such conjugation, improved delivery of peptide vaccines to target macrophages and dendritic cells (antigen presenting cells [APCs]) can be achieved for better vaccine efficacy. 


  • High levels of prodrug preferentially distributed to SR-A1-expressing cells, including myeloid/APC 
  • Active drug is released slowly in a controlled manner, without burst release, which has not yet been achieved with current nanomedicine platforms
  • The prodrug preferentially accumulates in the lymphatic system because of SR-A1-mediated transcytosis
  • Application in a wide range of therapeutics requiring crossing the blood-brain barrier


  • Targeted drug delivery of immunomodulatory small molecule drugs, peptide therapeutics, and vaccine antigens
  • Cancer therapeutic
  • Immunotherapies
  • Immunomodulatory therapies
  • Vaccines
  • Antiviral therapeutic; antiviral approaches against infectious diseases (e.g., HIV)
  • CNS therapeutic, e.g., brain delivery for neurodegenerative conditions and glioma

Contact: For more information on this technology, contact John Hewes, Ph.D., at

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