Biotechnology company SonoThera has reached an agreement with Italy-based Bracco Imaging to license the latter’s gas-filled microbubbles technology platform.

Under the agreement, SonoThera will receive a non-exclusive licence from Bracco Imaging to use its microbubble technology for the development of SonoThera’s novel, ultrasound-guided nonviral gene therapy platform.

Bracco Geneva research centre director Dr Thierry Bettinger said: “ The combination of Bracco’s innovative gas microbubbles platform with SonoThera’s ongoing development of a nonviral gene delivery platform will undoubtedly advance development in this novel approach to gene therapy.”

The excitation of microbubbles using ultrasound energy enables transient permeability of vessel walls and cell membranes for the delivery of therapeutic nucleic acid payloads into cells.

SonoThera will fully use the potential of Bracco’s technology to enable the safe and effective delivery of different genetic materials. The approach will help target cells/organs effectively with minimal off-target delivery.

SonoThera co-founder and CEO Dr Kenneth Greenberg said: “SonoThera is pleased to partner with a leader in microbubble development and commercialisation such as Bracco.

“As we develop a new generation of genetic therapies, important collaborations such as this make it possible to find alternative pathways to viral vectors, potentially increasing safety and efficacy.”

The ongoing research and development (R&D) programmes are exploring new applications for targeted microbubbles in molecular imaging and therapy.

The company has made a significant investment at its R&D and manufacturing site in Geneva to expand the production capacity of these different agents.