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Tech showcase at MedTech Malta: PanTher is detoxing cancer care

“We’re after revolutionising cancer treatment, with solutions to alleviate the pain and suffering experienced by patients and their families.”

– Laura Indolfi – CEO, PanTher Therapeutics

Attacking cancer at its source—what does this comprehensive approach involve? What are the potential advantages, and how might this fundamentally transform the landscape of oncology and patient care for those battling cancer?

Laura Indolfi, CEO of PanTher Therapeutics, delivered a compelling keynote at MedTech Malta 2023 last November. Her presentation unveiled pioneering therapeutics targeting cancer at its core.

The woman leading the charge

Laura Indolfi, Co-Founder and CEO of PanTher, brings a diverse background in science, business, and management to her role. With expertise spanning cardiology, oncology, and regenerative medicine, she is well-versed in drug delivery, cell therapy, and implanted devices. 

Indolfi’s blend of scientific and business acumen, coupled with her experience at esteemed institutions like Sloan and Harvard Business Schools, drives PanTher’s vision forward. Prior to PanTher, she held research and entrepreneurial roles at Harvard-MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and MGH Cancer Center, advocating for outreach initiatives to promote research awareness.

In recognition of her innovative contributions, Laura was selected as a TED Fellow in 2016. This prestigious honour is bestowed upon individuals who are recognized as the most influential and groundbreaking change-makers globally by the TED organisation.

Sagittari unlocks the full potential of Oncology Drugs

During her presentation, Laura Indolfi, CEO of PanTher Therapeutics, outlined the company’s innovative approach to cancer treatment. She emphasised the need to address the limitations of traditional therapies, which often result in systemic toxicity and inefficient drug delivery to tumour sites.

“Conventional, systematic treatment is like scattering seeds in a storm; only a fraction ever reach the intended target. The rest wreak havoc elsewhere, leading to inefficiency and unnecessary toxicity.”

With the mission spotlighted, she presented Sagittari, a platform that enables PanTher to maximise the effectiveness of oncology drugs by delivering them precisely where they are needed most: the tumour site. 

This targeted approach ensures that 100% of the drug dose reaches the tumour, eliminating concerns about dilution or metabolism in the bloodstream or liver. By allowing the drug to remain at the tumour site for an extended period, Sagittari enables PanTher to fully target solid tumours and unleash the full potential of cancer therapies.

Indolfi highlighted the company’s initial focus on pancreatic and lung cancers, two of the most challenging malignancies to treat. PanTher aims to intervene at any stage where surgical intervention occurs, deploying biodegradable patches that release therapeutic agents directly to tumour sites over an extended period. This targeted delivery approach enhances treatment efficacy and reduces the risk of systemic side effects.

It works using a multi-layered drug-eluting system. This system, seamlessly integrated into minimal invasive procedures, begins with the surgeon leaving behind a biodegradable film covering the tumour area. The film contains layers: one for drug elution and another as a backbone barrier. This flexible design fits perfectly into the surgical procedure. 

Over time, the drug-delivering layer degrades, releasing the drug exclusively towards the tumour, sparing nearby vital organs. Once the drug has been fully released, the entire system degrades naturally, eliminating the need for removal. 

After successful trials demonstrating both safety and efficacy, Indolfi envisions a future where patients receive this targeted therapy every few months, transforming cancer treatment as we know it.

The inspiration behind the idea

“The sad reality is that current cancer treatment involves poisoning the patient first.”

For Indolfi, her mission began with her vibrant mother, a judge with three children, who seemed healthy until a routine screening in June of 2016 revealed a small colon tumour spreading into her liver. Despite starting various chemotherapy regimens, her mother’s health deteriorated rapidly due to the toxicity of the treatments. 

In just over a year and a half, she passed away, less so from the cancer itself, but from the systemic chemo that ravaged her liver and kidneys.

Indolfi’s poignant account highlighted a critical flaw in current cancer treatments—while biotech companies pour vast resources into developing new drugs, they often overlook the detrimental impact of systemic chemotherapy. This approach floods the body with toxic drugs, with less than 1% reaching the tumour site, while the rest wreak havoc on healthy organs. 

The inspiration behind the innovation stemmed from Laura Indolfi’s engineering background. 

She questioned why cancer treatment couldn’t be targeted directly at the tumour site. Drawing from her experience in cardiology, where minimally invasive procedures transformed the field, she envisioned a similar approach for cancer therapy. Just as cardiology evolved from open heart surgeries to minimally invasive interventions, Indolfi sought to revolutionise cancer treatment. 

With her visionary approach, Laura Indolfi led the charge in developing a targeted drug delivery system at Panther Therapeutics, aiming to combat the inefficiency and toxicity of traditional cancer treatments. This innovative strategy represents a significant advancement in cancer therapy, promising more effective and patient-friendly treatment options.

Join us at MedTech Malta 2024

Following the success of last year’s event at the iconic Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, we’re thrilled to return for another groundbreaking gathering. Connect with industry leaders, investors, and innovators as we push the boundaries of healthcare technology.

Participate in dynamic panel discussions, CEO workshops, and cutting-edge technology showcases. Seize the opportunity to network, compete in pitch competitions, and celebrate excellence at the prestigious MedTech Malta Awards Gala.

Don’t miss your chance to shape the future of healthcare. Get your tickets now!