Cancer: A New Approach

A new medication delivery system might help control cancer

Sometimes what matters is how a medicine is delivered within the body. When it comes to cancer, there might be a new delivery system that could change the game.

Researchers from Oregon State University in collaboration with another group in the United Kingdom have developed a new approach to chemotherapy. Called a metronomic dosage regimen, the new system may be able to slow tumor growth and control it rather than eliminating the cancer.

Curing cancer has long been based on the idea that the cancer must be eliminated. While often effective, those medications and treatments come with very unpleasant side effects, and in some cases the cancer cells can become resistant to the medications. Side effects can be so severe that patients often need a medication-free period of several months to recover during which cancer cells begin to grow again.

“This new system takes some existing cancer therapy drugs for ovarian cancer, delivers both of them at the same time and allows them to work synergistically,” lead author Adam Alani said in a press release. “Imagine if we could manage cancer on a long-term basis as a chronic condition like we now do high blood pressure or diabetes. This could be a huge leap forward.”

Alani is a post-doctoral fellow and associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy.

The new approach uses much lower dosages of chemotherapeutic medications, but given more frequently. In addition to killing cancer cells, the frequent doses create a hostile environment that helps slow cancer growth. Lower dosages may also decrease the risk of resistance.

Alani and his colleagues have also developed a new delivery system. The system attaches the medication to tiny polymer particles that are designed to travel into the cancer cells and deliver the medications directly to the cells.

The new method seems to decrease toxicity from the medication while also making it more effective.

“Our goal is to significantly reduce tumors, slow or stop their re-growth and allow a person’s body and immune system time to recover its health and natural abilities to fight cancer,” Alani said in the press release. “I’m very optimistic this is possible, and that it could provide an entirely new approach to cancer treatment.”

The study results were published in the August issue of Chemistry of Materials.

Information on study funding and conflict of interest was not available.

Chemistry of Materials, “Combinatorial Polymeric Conjugated Micelles with Dual Cytotoxic and Antiangiogenic Effects for the Treatment of Ovarian Cancer”
Oregon State University, “Important advance made with new approach to ‘control’ cancer, not eliminate it”

Written by: Beth Greenwood, RN | Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.