NaNotics promises a new kind of medication

In another breakthrough for nanotech, one company says it has found a way to combat age related diseases.

If a company’s answer to a question “what do you do?” is to show a clip from Star Trek, you know they are pushing the envelope quite far. Even so, that’s exactly what Lou Hawthorne of NaNotics, LLC did when opening his presentation at a recent Longevity investor event.

Longevity.Technology: To boldly go where no nanotech has gone before? We’re excited by NaNotics’ research – especially because selecting molecular targets by geometry in addition to biochemistry means an excellent acquisition rate and reduced side effects. The team are now raising a $5m bridge round in 2 tranches of $2.5m. The first tranche will be sold out this week.

The TRL score for the technology addressed in this article is: “Late proof of concept demonstrated in real-life conditions.”

The clip shows an aging Captain Kirk being given a shot which magically restores him to his younger self. It begs the obvious question: what’s in the syringe?

“It’s tempting to assume it’s a drug, but what if the content of that syringe was something new?” NaNotics’ CEO Hawthorne asked. “NaNots are a new class of medicine. They are engineered to do just one thing and that’s the holy grail of medicine design, because most drugs do two things: something you want them to do, and something you don’t. In other words, side effects.”

Rather than targeting cells, NaNots instead target signal molecules that trigger diseases and aging. A NaNot comprises a biocompatible core onto which is bonded a capture agent which has an affinity for the target. All of this is bound underneath a porous outer shield.

NaNotics promises a new kind of medication
A cross segment of a NaNot

The great value of NaNots is their ability to target only the soluble rather than membrane forms of a pathogenic molecular target. It is, as he says, “very difficult to engineer a drug which can do this because the two target forms are biochemically identical, resulting in very different effects on the body. NaNots, however, use particle geometry in addition to biochemistry, enabling them to distinguish between soluble and membrane forms.”

This helps it to avoid side effects and to demonstrate how he used the example of soluble and membrane forms of the T Cell inhibitor PD-L1. On a cancer cell PD-L1 works by ligating the inhibitory receptor PD-1 and sending the T-cell into cellular hibernation. Antibodies that block this inhibitory pathway between cancer cells and immune cells represent one of the top selling drug categories with more than $20bn annual sales.

However, critical cells in the body, such as lung, colon and heart cells, use membrane PD-L1 to block T cell attack. When antibodies block the membrane PD-L1 on T Cells, they produce side effects such as colitis or pneumonitis, depending on which organ has been affected.

NaNots have a 90% or greater target depletion capacity in less than five minutes “… the potential to truly revolutionise medication for age-related diseases.”


However, the soluble form of PD-L1 (sPD-L1) is elevated in 12 of the 19 most common cancer types. It is bioactive and ligates PD-L1 just as effectively as membrane PD-L1. It also binds and neutralises drugs against PD-L1 reducing their efficacy.

NaNots can be developed which are specific to sPD-L1 and can be used either as a monotherapy or as an adjunct treatment with existing cancer drugs. They improve the effectiveness of treatment and reduce toxicity by lowering the required dosage of the drug. In addition, the treatment is fast acting. NaNots have a 90% or greater target depletion capacity in less than five minutes with no post-injection loss of responsiveness. In addition, NaNot shielding prevents B-cells from interacting with NaNot capture agents and thereby prevents the formation of anti drug antibodies. NaNot shielding and use of biocompatible materials suggests they should be safe even at 50-100 times the clinical dose.

NaNotics is developing a “toolkit” of NaNots, although they say it’s hard to place a valuation on the technology, they suggest a 10% rate of adjunctive use for cancers could be worth $2bn.


NaNotics is developing a “toolkit” of NaNots, although they say it’s hard to place a valuation on the technology, they suggest a 10% rate of adjunctive use for cancers could be worth $2bn. It is part of a booming nanohealth market which has tremendous scope for growth over the coming years [1]. Investors are flooding into the market, attracted by the thought of supporting the next big breakthrough in medicine. NaNotics believe they have found something which has the potential to truly revolutionise medication for age related diseases.

Read our exclusive interview with NaNotics’ CEO Lou Hawthorne in which he discusses investment in nanotech and NaNot technology here.


Thanks to NaNotics, LLC for the graphics in this article.
Eleanor Garth
Staff Writer and Community Manager Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.


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