Cancers are as diverse as they are devastating. Drugs that kill tumor cells, known as chemotherapy, are administered systemically (through the blood). The major limitation to this approach is that chemotherapy drugs not only kill tumor cells, but kill other dividing cells, including hair follicles and cells of the immune system and digestive tract. The small fraction of drug that actually reaches the tumor then does not penetrate into the tumor to reach all of the tumor cells. To improve the effectiveness of cancer therapies, nanotechnologies can be used to focus delivery to the tumor tissues, deliver smaller therapeutic doses in a sustained manner over time, and improve drug penetration into the tumor tissue. Our nanoparticles are engineered with surface coatings that overcome mucosal barriers on epithelial tumors, as well as allow penetration through tissue to allow for drug to reach more of the tumor cells (see Technologies).
Additionally, cancers cells have the ability to evade the body’s biochemical signal for programmed cell death, called apoptosis. Resistance to apoptosis in tumor cells can be overcome with chemotherapeutics, as well as proteins that bind to specific receptors found on the surface of cancer cells. We are developing engineered TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) agonists as universal cancer-targeted therapies to induce cancer cell death. Such nanomedicines can provide more effective eradication of tumors.
Disease Focus Areas
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Lung cancer
- Brain cancer
- Colorectal cancer
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