New drug delivery system could help fight tumors

Treatment of carcinomas, one of many solid-tumor cancers that are less susceptible to drugs standardly used to kill them, may improve with a new method developed by researchers.

By Amy Wallace

April 4 (UPI) -- Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new cancer-drug delivery system that may help overcome the challenge of treating solid tumors often resistant to treatment.

Carcinomas, a type of cancer that affect the lung, prostate, colon and breast, are solid tumors that contain hypoxic or low oxygen regions that cause slow growth and resistance to drug treatment to shrink or kill the tumor.


The team at Oregon State found a way to use a prodrug, a pharmacologically inactive compound that is metabolized by the body into an active drug, to overcome the hypoxia of carcinoma tumors.

Researchers developed two different lipid-based platform formulations called liposomes using the prodrug vinblastine-N-oxide to carry the prodrug to the tumor's hypoxic regions. This approach proved safe and more effective than the drug delivered without a liposome.

"The tumor model we chose, lung cancer, is one of the very well established tumors and there's a very strong hypoxia associated with that -- as well as, lung cancer is one of these cancers that in its advanced stages, it's a terminal disease, and there's a need for new treatments," Adam Alani, of the OSU College of Pharmacy, said in a press release.


In mice models, researchers found the drug without any liposome showed some tumor suppression but mice that received the drug and liposome combination were healthy and tumor-free for nearly 100 days.

"The formulations clearly performed better than the unformulated drug as well as much better than Cisplatin, the standard-of-care drug for this research," Alani said. "Now we're collaborating with Cascade Prodrug and the College of Veterinary Medicine to assess safety and efficacy in dog models, and trying to look at other tumors, like bladder cancer, associated with dogs."

The study was published in the Journal of Controlled Release.

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