Midatech Pharma

Africa Barrientos1



Africa Barrientos

R&D Nanoparticle Development Technology
Midatech Pharma España S.L.U. (Derio, Spain)

Valentin Cognet


Valentin Cognet
Midatech Fellow

Project: “Preparation of gold nanoparticles functionalised with glycans & glycomimetics”


Midatech is a nanomedicine company focused on the development and commercialization of multiple, high-value, targeted therapies for major diseases with unmet medical need.

Midatech is developing a pipeline of product candidates in clinical and pre-clinical development for diseases for which there are currently few or no treatment options available. These diseases include diabetes, rare cancers including brain (glioblastoma), ovarian, liver and pancreatic cancer and neurological/ophthalmologic conditions.

GNP technology

Midatech’s primary platform technology is based on carbohydrate-coated gold nanoparticle (GNP) drug conjugates.

The key advantages of Midatech’s GNP platform technology are:

  • Solubility: Can bind and transport non-soluble and lipid soluble therapeutic compounds to sites of disease
  • Releasability: GNP-drug conjugates can release the active compound inside the cell
  • Mobility: Small size (3.5 nanometer diameter) means GNP-drug conjugates may cross membranes (including the blood brain barrier), move between cells and through cells to reach diseased cells
  • Targetability: Multiple binding sites mean several therapeutics and targeting agents may be attached to a single nanoparticle
  • Stability: Peptides may be stabilised by GNP drug conjugates as they have less freedom to degrade when bound
  • Excretability: Due to their small size, GNP-drug conjugates are believed to exit cells and get eliminated via the kidneys and liver
  • Compatibility: GNPs are inert and biocompatible, and are not expected to trigger an immune response
  • Scalability: Through its own cGMP manufacturing facility, Midatech can control the supply and develop quality material for clinical trials and commercialisation.


GNPs comprise of a core of gold metal atoms to which an organic layer of carbohydrates or glycans (e.g. glucose, galactose or lactose) are attached via gold-sulphur bonds. The carbohydrate layer stabilises the metallic core (passivation) and makes the particle both water-soluble and biocompatible.

Linkers for therapeutic agents (e.g. small molecules and chemotherapeutics) and peptides (e.g. insulin) – are attached to the gold core during the self-formation process. This process involves intricate yet uncomplicated synthesis that produces multi-component particles that may deliver multiple drug molecules to the targeted site.

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