Brigham Young University researchers are reporting in the December issue of the prestigious oncology journal "Cancer Research" that they have successfully tested a new method in laboratory animals that would concentrate the impact of cancer drugs on specific cancerous tissues, thus sparing the rest of the body from harm.
Their method combines two, key innovations: packaging a drug in tiny molecules of water-soluble plastic so that the drug would not interact while passing through a person's bloodstream, then using ultrasound to release the drug from its package at the specific part of the body affected by the cancer.
William G. Pitt, professor of chemical engineering at BYU and principal investigator on the project, said he is pleased that the tests produced significant reductions of tumor size in laboratory animals.
"This method shows potential in offering controlled drug delivery, which could reduce the negative side effects that arise during chemotherapy and could localize the treatment at the tumor site," said Pitt, cautioning that human application is still several years away.
Richard H. Wheeler, director of clinical research for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, says Pitt's research is interesting and innovative.
"The use of focused ultrasound to release the packaged drug maximally within tumor tissue holds promise for the cancer patient of increasing the chance for tumor response while reducing side effects," said Wheeler.
The experiments are the product of years of work on ultrasound drug delivery by Pitt combined with that of Natalya Rapoport, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, who has been studying the physics and chemistry of drug delivery using water-soluble plastics called micell
Contact: Grant Madsen
Brigham Young University