Nanoparticles revive failed cancer drug
16 May 2012
A University of North Carolina (UNC) team has developed
nanoparticle drug carriers that have successfully delivered therapeutic
doses of a cancer drug that had previously failed clinical development
due to pharmacological challenges.
They reported their proof of principle findings in the April 30,
2012 early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy
Wortmannin is a drug that was highly promising as a cancer drug,
but its successful preclinical studies did not translate into
clinical efficacy because of challenges such as high toxicity, low
stability and low solubility (unable to be dissolved in blood).
Andrew Z Wang MD, study senior author, says, “Drug development is
a difficult and expensive process. For a cancer drug to make it to
clinical use, it not only has to be effective against cancer cells,
but also needs to have low toxicity, good stability and good
solubility. Many promising drugs such as wortmannin failed clinical
development because they failed one or more of these requirements.
Nanoparticle drug delivery is a breakthrough technology and has the
ability to overcome these limitations. Our study is a proof of
principle to demonstrate that nanoparticles can renew the clinical
potential of many of these ‘abandoned’ and ‘forgotten’ drugs.
“We found that the nanoparticle formulation of wortmannin
decreased toxicity and increased stability, solubility and
effectiveness. Additionally, nanoparticle wortmannin can improve the
efficacy of radiotherapy dramatically and is more effective than the
most commonly utilized chemotherapeutics. ” Wang is a member of UNC
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Wang explains, “Most research has focused on established drugs.
However, there is a large number of these ‘forgotten’ drugs that can
be revived and re-evaluated using nanoparticle drug delivery. These
drugs can provide new targets and offer new strategies that
previously didn’t exist.”
The team will now focus on further development of the
nanoparticle wortmannin as well as look into developing nanoparticle
formulation of other abandoned drugs.