BREAKING RESEARCH

No carrier necessary: drug delivers itself in pioneering solution

Confocal microscope image shows uptake of the nanocrystals by cancer cells.

Confocal microscope image shows uptake of the nanocrystals by cancer cells.

The problem of efficiently delivering drugs—especially those that are hydrophobic or water-repellant—to tumors or other disease sites has long challenged scientists to develop innovative delivery systems that keep these drugs intact until reaching their targets.

Now scientists in UB’s Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have developed an innovative solution in which the delivery system is the drug itself.

The system involves the use of nanocrystals measuring about 100 nanometers of an anticancer drug currently in Phase I/II human clinical trials at RPCI. The UB researchers found that the nanocrystals of this compound were taken up by tumors in vivo, with efficacy comparable to conventional, surfactant-based delivery systems. “In this case, the drug itself acts as its own carrier,” says Haridas Pudavar, UB research assistant professor and a coauthor. The nanocrystals present a major advantage over other methods of delivery, according to Paras Prasad, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry, executive director of the institute and a coauthor.