Sensitive drug pouches target tumors for chemotherapy
A new polymer-based vessicle that is very sensitive to small changes in pH
Current chemotherapies typically cause significant collateral damage. Cancer cells may be killed, but healthy ones may be damaged as well. It would be ideal if these drugs could be more efficiently targeted at the tumors. Better targeting is highly desirable because it can improve efficacy, lower dosage requirements, and reduce adverse effects. Although the drugs themselves cannot always differentiate healthy cells from tumor cells, Drs. Auguste and You of Harvard University developed a pouch that can. The pouch, or vesicle, is particularly sensitive to changes in pH (acidity). Because tumors are slightly more acidic than healthy cells, the vesicle responds only when it is close to the tumor. Vesicles are loaded with the chemotherapy drugs and then administered to a patient. When the vesicles come in contact with a slightly more acidic tumor environment, they swell and release their payloads such that the drugs hit the tumor directly. For cancer patients, chemotherapy using this new vesicle would mean a more direct attack on the tumor cells, with fewer side effects. This vesicle could also be used to deliver antifungal agents, anesthetics, and other therapeutics.
Innovations and Advantages
Dr. Auguste’s novel new polymer-based vesicle is sensitive to very small changes in pH. When conditions are slightly more acidic than normal, the polymer swells and releases the liquids inside it. Other pH-sensitive materials require pH changes of much larger magnitude – in fact so large that the materials are impractical for use in drug delivery.
Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) pending
Feedback-regulated paclitaxel delivery based on poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) nanoparticles
Auguste, Debra T.
For further information, please contact:
Mick Sawka, Director of Business Development
Reference Harvard Case #3079