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  • Silvia Estrada

Ecopol Tech, creates nanocapsules that reduce the toxicity of anti-cancer drugs

Ecopol Tech's nanoscientist developing ECOSTRATAR nanocapsules to fight cancer at Ecopol Tech's cleanroom facilities in L'Arboç, Tarragona, Spain.

  • The company's pharma-biotech division is validating with a research group linked to the UB and IDIBELL this new intelligent system for administering drugs that, unlike freely supplied, allows selective targeting of solid tumors, ensuring efficiency and reducing, at the same time, their side effects.

  • This project has received a grant of 84,000 euros from ACCIO within the framework of the Business R+D Nuclei program.

  • Founded in 2005, Ecopol Tech specializes in the development of nanostructured polymers for different sectors such as pharmaceutical, industrial or cosmetic.


Sunday, 14th of December of 2020 - The Tarragona company Ecopol Tech (L'Arboç, Baix Penedès) has developed nanocapsules for the administration of anti-cancer drugs that reduce the systemic toxicity of these treatments. This is a new system (called Ecostratar) that encapsulates the drug (which is usually administered freely, without any type of nano-vehicle) so that it is directed directly to the tumor, maintaining its efficiency, but reducing its harmful impact on the rest of the cells and organs of the body.

For this project, Ecopol Tech has received a grant of nearly 84,000 euros within the framework of the Business R+D Nuclei of ACTION program -the agency for business competitiveness, dependent on the Department of Business and Knowledge-, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of the Catalonia 2014-2020 Operational Program. This line of aid is aimed at companies that develop new technological products or services that, by their nature, often present technical difficulties and high economic costs.

According to Ecopol Tech's CEO, Dr. Josep Rocas, the company's objective is "to incorporate the drugs usually used in the treatment of high-impact cancers into intelligent polymer nanocapsules capable of identifying the tumor environment and targeting them selectively to reduce their impact on the rest of the body". The fact of encapsulating the drug facilitates this process of selective accumulation and preferential release in tumour areas (which present different characteristics from those of the rest of the body, such as a more acidic pH and the high concentration of certain enzymes compared to healthy cells).

The Catalan company, through its pharma-biotech division, is validating this system of nanocapsules in mice with the research group of Cancer Cell Biology of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona (UB), linked to the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL), mainly for the future treatment of patients with lung and breast cancer.

"So far, in the in vitro tests and in mice, the fact of encapsulating the drugs has shown us similar results in terms of their efficiency to attack the tumor, while vital organs such as the liver, kidneys or lungs have not been affected, which shows the reduction of the toxicity of the treatment," explains Dr. Rocas. This is a pioneering project because, as explained by Ecopol Tech's CEO, "the controlled drug release systems are a very attractive proposal, as they improve the properties of existing drugs so that they arrive more selectively, guaranteeing a good therapeutic index (that is, the ratio between toxicity and efficiency), as the systems used until now had not proved to be successful enough".

The company from Tarragona will soon participate in a European project focused on the research of other types of cancer such as lymphoma, melanoma or leukemia. In this line, it is also working on another project where nanoencapsulation is used to selectively boost the immune system of cancer patients, for which it has also received support from ACCIO within the framework of the Business R+D Nuclei programme.

Ecopol Tech, founded in 2005, has a staff of 19 highly qualified workers. The company specializes in the development of biodegradable polymers for micro and nanoencapsulation for all types of industries. Beyond the biotech and pharmaceutical fields, Ecopol Tech works for the beauty and personal care sector, and industries such as textiles, among others.

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