Targeted Drug Delivery For Cancer Using Nanoparticles Has Been Achieved by Researchers at Harvard University and MIT
NWN Interview Brief With Dr. Omid Farokhzad, Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Robert Langer, MITResearchers at Harvard University and MIT have demonstrated for the first time that targeted drug delivery is possible using nanoparticle-apatamer conjugates. “By engineering the nanoparticles, we have designed targeted drug delivery vehicles that attach to and get taken by cancer cells and kill the cancer,” said Dr. Omid Farokhzad, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School and principle investigator of this study. Dr. Robert Langer, Institute professor at MIT and leader of this project tells NWN, “We have created nanoparticles with homing devices to get them to the target site (the cancer cells). This has been accomplished by engineering RNA molecules that can attach to the nanoparticles, which is a revolutionary way to deliver drugs.”
The research team used prostate cancer as the model disease for their targeted drug delivery research because “we wanted to focus on a cancer model where a localized tumor has a localized way of being treated in clinical practice,” said Farokhzad. Dr. Farokhzad and the research team believe that by starting with targeted drug delivery for a localized disease, “we are on a continuum to build on past progress and our recent success, and make incremental improvements to develop therapeutically viable nanoparticles for metastatic cancer in the future.”
Why is nanotechnology critical to innovation cancer detection and treatment? Dr. Faorkhzad tells NWN, “Nanotechnology allows us to do things we are unable to do otherwise. Nanotechnology gives us a ‘set of tools.’ For example, in our current work nanotechnology has allowed us to create nanoparticles made of polymers that control the release of the drug and target only the cancer cells for treatment. A similar approach may be used to design polymers that can deliver drug doses in any quantity, over any amount of time, as part of an optimal therapy for each unique clinical problems.” The idea to use polymers for nanoparticles is based on MIT Professor Robert Langer’s groundbreaking research that was first described in the 1980s.
In May 2006, the Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) will collaborate with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in presenting a Special Symposium on Nanotechnology for Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment. The NCI-NSTI Nanotechnology for Cancer Special Symposium will run in parallel with the Nanotech 2006 and the BioNano 2006 Conferences, providing a unique multidisciplinary environment directed towards addressing the challenges of cancer research and treatment. To learn more about the Symposium, please visit http://www.nsti.org/Nanotech2006/