DURHAM, N.C. -- Going smaller could bring better results, especially when it comes to cancer-fighting drugs.
Duke University bioengineers have developed a simple and inexpensive method for loading cancer drug payloads into nano-scale delivery vehicles and demonstrated in animal models that this new nanoformulation can eliminate tumors after a single treatment. After delivering the drug to the tumor, the delivery vehicle breaks down into harmless byproducts, markedly decreasing the toxicity for the recipient.
Nano-delivery systems have become increasingly attractive to researchers because of their ability to efficiently get into tumors. Since blood vessels supplying tumors are more porous, or leaky, than normal vessels, the nanoformulation can more easily enter and accumulate within tumor cells. This means that higher doses of the drug can be delivered, increasing its cancer-killing abilities while decreasing the side effects associated with systematic chemotherapy
"When used to deliver anti-cancer medications in our models, the new formulation has a four-fold higher maximum tolerated dose than the same drug by itself, and it induced nearly complete tumor regression after one injection," said Ashutosh Chilkoti, Theo Pilkington Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "The free drug had only a modest effect in shrinking tumors or in prolonging animal survival".
The results of Chilkoti's experiments were published early online in the journal Nature Materials.
"Just as importantly, we believe, is the novel method we developed to create these drugs," Chilkoti said. "Unlike other approaches, we can produce large quantities simply and inexpensively, and we believe the new method theoretically could be used to improve the effectiveness of other existing cancer drugs."
Central to the new method is how the drug is "attached" to its polypeptide delivery system and whether or not
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