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Cancer Res. 2012 Nov 1;72(21):5566-75. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1683. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Overcoming limitations in nanoparticle drug delivery: triggered, intravascular release to improve drug penetration into tumors.

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Medical Physics Program, Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Traditionally, the goal of nanoparticle-based chemotherapy has been to decrease normal tissue toxicity by improving drug specificity to tumors. The enhanced permeability and retention effect can permit passive accumulation into tumor interstitium. However, suboptimal delivery is achieved with most nanoparticles because of heterogeneities of vascular permeability, which limits nanoparticle penetration. Furthermore, slow drug release limits bioavailability. We developed a fast drug-releasing liposome triggered by local heat that has already shown substantial antitumor efficacy and is in human trials. Here, we show that thermally sensitive liposomes (Dox-TSL) release doxorubicin inside the tumor vasculature. Real-time confocal imaging of doxorubicin delivery to murine tumors in window chambers and histologic analysis of flank tumors illustrates that intravascular drug release increases free drug in the interstitial space. This increases both the time that tumor cells are exposed to maximum drug levels and the drug penetration distance, compared with free drug or traditional pegylated liposomes. These improvements in drug bioavailability establish a new paradigm in drug delivery: rapidly triggered drug release in the tumor bloodstream.

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