KI researchers led by Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, and Michael Yaffe, the David H. Koch Professor of Science, have engineered new, “smart” nanoparticles that directly target tumor cells to deliver multiple drugs in a staggered, precisely-timed regimen.
In 2012, the Yaffe Lab showed that the timing of drug administration can make a great difference in the success of combination treatments. Yaffe’s team discovered that pre-treating tumor cells with erlotinib, a therapeutic that shuts down uncontrolled tumor growth, before administering a DNA-damaging agent called doxorubicin, is more effective than giving the two drugs simultaneously.
As part of efforts to adapt the findings for patient care, Yaffe enlisted the help of KI colleague Paula Hammond. Hammond and her team designed dozens of nanoparticles to carry Yaffe’s treatment and found that liposomes, small droplets covered in a fatty shell, were most effective. With the first drug, erlotnib, injected in the outer layer, and the second, doxorubicin, contained in the inner core, the liposomes dispatched treatment to the cells at ideal intervals as the particles broke down in the body. In the study, published in Science Signaling, this treatment was shown to effectively knock out triple-negative breast tumors and non-small-cell lung tumors in mouse models. The researchers hope to expand time-staggered treatment to other types of chemotherapy.
This work was supported in part by the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program through the Kathy and Curt Marble Fund for Cancer Research. more...