SkinJect, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company, today announced its completion of a license with the University of Pittsburgh to its novel, minimally invasive treatment for common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. Two million new cases of basal cell cancer are reported each year in the United States, and more than half of all patients suffer a recurrence. The new product under development could dramatically change the way these skin cancers are treated.
The SkinJect™ patch is a thumb-sized array of dissolvable microneedles that will deliver a chemotherapeutic agent to kill an existing skin cancer. The SkinJect patch will be applied once a week, for 3 weeks, in the doctor’s office. The microneedles, less than a millimeter long, dissolve within 15 minutes of application.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Louis D. Falo, MD, PhD, who chairs Pittsburgh’s Department of Dermatology, is a co-inventor of the microneedle patch, along with O. Burak Ozdoganlar, PhD, Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University. Both inventors serve as scientific advisors to the company as it develops the array.
“The SkinJect patch is a promising novel approach to combating cancer,” said Dr. Falo. “Right now, a standard of care for basal cell carcinoma is Mohs micrographic surgery, which can be expensive, painful, and disfiguring. The SkinJect patch will offer a cost-effective way to treat an existing cancer and potentially prevent it from coming back again later in life.”
President and CEO of SkinJect Jim Nolan said SkinJect was being watched closely by both the medical and investment communities. “This device has the potential to transform the fields of dermatology and oncology. Its commercial future is extremely promising,” said Nolan.
“We’re excited to have concluded this deal with a company headquartered in Pittsburgh,” said Marc Malandro, Founding Director of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, who also serves as Chairman of Pennsylvania Bio, the state’s life sciences trade organization. “A number of local biotech entrepreneurs – including Anthony Florence, who played a pivotal role in providing early seed money for this project – have supported SkinJect. The company’s success is an affirmation of our region’s growing biotech community.”
The company plans to file an IND (Investigational New Drug) application, a request to the FDA to begin administering the device to humans, by late 4th quarter 2016 or early 1st quarter 2017.
Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States. After the age of 65, 50% of the population will develop skin cancer with the majority diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC). BCC occurs typically on the face, head, or neck and is a highly disfiguring disease. Current therapies involve invasive surgical procedures that are time-consuming, associated with patient recovery/morbidity and are expensive. SkinJect is novel, single use, topical drug delivery patch that, like a ‘Band-Aid’, is applied to the affected skin of those diagnosed with skin cancer. It is based on a proprietary micro-needle array drug delivery platform that uniquely delivers a potent generic chemotherapeutic agent and modifier to kill existing skin cancer and induce a memory immune response to prevent cancer re-occurrence. This project has confirmed high physician and patient acceptance from initial customer feedback.