Research Team Seeking Better Drug, Safety and Patient Results


AUSTIN, Texas – (July 8, 2013) – Recently, Emergent Technologies in Austin and one of its companies, Caisson Biotech, LLC, announced a partnership with Ascension Seton and a research group led by Dr. T.J. Milling, deputy director and clinical scholar with the Seton/UT Southwestern Clinical Research Institute of Austin,. Milling will lead research aimed at utilizing Cassion’s HEPtune drug delivery system in order to increase drug performance and safety and improve patient experience and outcomes. Emergent’s news release noted that HEPtune uses naturally occurring Heparosan to enhance the therapeutic properties of conjugated pharmaceutical drugs by increasing the product half-life, reducing immunogenicity and increasing stability.

What does this mean for Ascension Seton and our patients? We went to the source and asked him to explain it.

By Dr. T.J. Milling


Imagine being able to dial in the half-life of a drug, design it so it keeps working for an ideal period and at the same time potentially making it less toxic with fewer side effects.

This is what Ascension Seton and Caisson Biotech hope to accomplish in the coming years with a collaboration that will break new ground in Ascension Seton’s mission to translate laboratory science into the real world clinical environment.

Heparosan is a natural occurring sugar in the human body. But when polymerized and attached to an active drug, it can tune the half-life and cloak it from the body’s immune system.

The possibilities for clinical application of this technology are limitless, and indeed heparosan is poised to challenge the current drug platform, Polyethylene Glycol or PEG, in a $7 billion market.

For Ascension Seton and Caisson, this collaboration began with some informal discussion about how to partner the newly formed Seton/UT Southwestern Clinical Research Institute’s expertise with Caisson’s intellectual property. It culminated with a recently signed agreement to select a drug and carry out pre-clinical testing and early phase clinical research.

It is an enormous undertaking, but the end result could be better drugs and better care for our patients – and less toxic medicines with more convenient dosing.

This type of “bench to bedside research” is an early example of the economic development that will spring up around Ascension Ascension Seton’s academic medicine and clinical research mission as Austin moves toward becoming a center of biomedical excellence.

We will see more of these collaborations as we build the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the new University Medical Center at Brackenridge teaching hospital and pursue all the other initiatives outlined in Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson’s “10 in 10.”