The ability to target cancer drugs is a critical element in their effectiveness, and researchers at Leeds are working on an innovative delivery mechanism that aims to improve targeting and that may enable the licensing of other – as yet unlicensed – drugs.
Microbubbles (bubbles with a diameter of around 1 micron) are being trialled as a means of delivering medication to tumour sites. A fluorocarbon shell is coated with lipid molecules, and antibodies that target the tumour, while the drug is introduced into the microbubble.
Ultrasound enables the progress of the drug to be tracked through the body and once it reaches the site, it is burst remotely, delivering the therapy. The project is a collaboration between the University of Leeds’ Schools of Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, and Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine.
Originally being used to target colorectal cancer, if successful this delivery method could open the way for treatment on a whole range of other types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular and musculoskeletal conditions. Similarly, some known drugs proven to be effective, but not licensed because of their toxicity, may find that precise targeting enables them to be licensed.
The microbubbles project is part of the Targeted Molecular Delivery prioritised research theme. In addition to activities provided through the theme, support was provided through a Sector Hub proof-of-concept project and the development of plans for industrial engagement and commercialisation. Also help to achieve funding for a proof-of-market study to identify an appropriate route to market for the technology, and further proof-of-concept funding for pre-clinical work and additional prototype development was provided.