UNMC nanotechnology protects skin from cancer, early wrinkles

by Charlie Litton, UNeMed


ProTransit Nanotherapy co-founder Gary Madsen (left) and UNeMed Corp. president Michael Dixon sign the licensing agreement on a technology that could make skin care products more protective against harmful UV radiation from the sun. (Photo by Jack Mayfield/UNeMed) 

Nanotechnology developed at UNMC could turn things such as sunscreen and anti-aging cosmetics into even more potent barriers protecting the skin from UV radiation that can cause wrinkles and skin cancer.

A new startup company, ProTransit Nanotherapies, L.L.C., was founded on the innovation and hopes to commercialize the nontoxic, biodegradable system within the next 18 months.

If successful, the nanotechnology could serve as a platform that can deliver targeted treatments to a vast range of ailments, including stroke and heart disease.

The root cause of many of those diseases are renegade atoms or molecules known as free radicals that damage neighboring cells. The best-known weapons against free radicals are antioxidants. But effectively delivering those antioxidants has been a challenging riddle for modern science.

Vinod Labhasetwar, Ph.D., a former faculty member at UNMC’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, appears to have solved that problem.

Dr. Labhasetwar — currently a professor of biomedical engineering at the Lerner Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio — developed nanoparticles that can carry a wide range of proteins, enzymes and even genetic materials that can be customized to deliver targeted treatments.

The first application of the nanotechnology will be to deliver a powerful blend of protective antioxidants in topical formulations to protect skin from the sun’s UV radiation — a major cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging.

ProTransit Nanotherapy was formed in collaboration with Gary Madsen, Ph.D., the entrepreneur in residence at UNeMed Corporation. UNeMed is the technology transfer office at UNMC.

Dr. Madsen will serve as the new company’s president and CEO. Dr. Labhasetwar, a co-founder of the company, will serve as the chief scientific officer.
ProTransit Nanotherapy also works with UNMC’s Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine to develop facilities for the manufacture of nanoparticles and other nanomedical products.

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