Monthly Publication Highlights the Development of New Drug Carriers

November 20, 2015

The UK College of Pharmacy Research Publication Highlight for November 2015 is titled “Polymer Nanoassemblies with Solvato- and Halo-Fluorochromism for Drug Release Monitoring and Metastasis Imaging” and was published in Therapeutic Delivery.

The project was a collaborative effort between investigators in the UK Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine. Derek Reichel, the lead author of the study, is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Younsoo Bae, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Bae lab collaborated with Dr. Piotr Rychahou, M.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery.

The manuscript reports the development of new “theranostic” tools for concurrent treatment and diagnosis of liver metastatic colorectal cancer (MCRC). This cutting edge technology utilizes nanoparticles that deliver anticancer drugs to MCRC tumors and emit fluorescent signals in response to changes in tissue pH observed in acidic tumors. The dual functionality not only allows clinicians to effectively suppress tumor growth with minimal toxicity to cancer patients, but also monitor the release of the drug and tumor progression and regression in a non-invasive manner. The research team synthesized two polymer-based nanoparticles with unique fluorescent properties which change near-infrared signals for non-invasive deep tissue imaging when loaded/unloaded with chemotherapeutics and with the acidity of their microenvironment. The investigators demonstrated that they could monitor the release of anticancer drugs from the nanoparticles as well as the acidic environment of MCRC tumors in the livers of mice.

“The development of this new and exciting technology is a testament to the creativity of our students and faculty and may one day change the way we treat and monitor cancer” said Greg Graf, Assistant Dean for Translational Research.