InhaTarget: chemotherapy by inhalation

March 26th 2020

Candice Leblanc

The new spin-off company “InhaTarget Therapeutics”, which has just raised 5.6 million euros in Series A funding, develops dry powders for inhalation to treat lung cancer. Combined with current standard treatments, this method of administration offers a number of benefits.

Cisplatin is one of the most commonly used chemotherapy agents in medical oncology. It is currently administered intravenously (iv), but its significant systemic toxicity imposes certain restrictions. iv Doses must be administered every three weeks, in order to give the patient enough time to ‘recover’ and receive the next dose. ‘In cases of pulmonary tumour(s), inhaling cisplatin could avoid these systemic side effects’, explains Frédéric De Coninck, CEO of InhaTarget Therapeutics. ‘We still have to limit the risk of local toxicity and control the release of the active ingredient. This is what we are currently working on.’


Cisplatin for inhalation

InhaTarget Therapeutics was launched in August 2019 as a spin-off of ULB’s Laboratory of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics(1). InhaTarget Therapeutics is developing a new route of administration of cisplatin (CIS) through dry particles for inhalation (DPI). What makes CIS-DPI so unique? ‘The active ingredient is encapsulated in a lipid matrix that gradually releases cisplatin in the bronchi. This prevents local toxicity peaks, while ensuring the active ingredient to be released over a longer period.’


The benefits of inhalation

This new method of administering chemotherapy offers a number of benefits:

  1. It avoids issues of systemic toxicity presented by intravenous chemotherapy.

  2. It enables the active ingredient to be delivered locally in high concentrations, through one or two inhalations (i.e. in a few seconds).

  3. The treatment could be taken at home, using a device similar to those used to treat asthma.

  4. Owing to their lower toxicity profile, the treatment could be administered frequently, by the patient themself. This could be particularly interesting in combination with immunotherapy.


A complementary treatment

CIS-DPI currently is not intended to substitute standard treatments, but rather to complement them. ‘Stage 4 lung cancer patients receive first-line immunotherapy and/or chemotherapy treatments delivered intravenously’, explains Frédéric de Coninck. ‘We have conducted preclinical trials on mice, using CIS-DPI in addition to these standard protocols. This new combination of treatments increases effectiveness, both in terms of overall survival and tumour progression.’(2)


Projects and perspectives

After developing these proofs of concept, InhaTarget Therapeutics is now focusing on three activities before entering into its first clinical trial (planned in early 2022):

  1. Continue preclinical studies on mice in order to determine the best administration schemes combining CIS-DPI and standard treatments.

  2. Transfer the technology to an industrial partner for the manufacturing of preclinical and clinical batches following GMPs.

  3. Launch a regulatory toxicity study of CIS-DPI on animal models in order to determine the maximum tolerated dose.(3)


Financial aspects

The spin-off has recently announced a successful Series A funding, collecting 5.6 million euros of equity and an additional 2.6 million euros in financial support from the Walloon region.



  1. Professor Karim Amighi, head of the laboratory, is a co-founder of InhaTarget Therapeutics.
  2. Rosière et al. in Cancers, 2019.
  3. InhaTarget Therapeutics is looking for a Chief Clinical and Regulatory Officer to complete its team.