Discovery and Delivery of Synergistic Chemotherapy Drug Combinations to Tumors
- Author(s): Camacho, Kathryn Militar
- Advisor(s): Mitragotri, Samir
- et al.
Chemotherapy combinations for cancer treatments harbor immense therapeutic potentials which have largely been untapped. Of all diseases, clinical studies of drug combinations are the most prevalent in oncology, yet their effectiveness is disputable, as complete tumor regressions are rare. Our research has been devoted towards developing delivery vehicles for combinations of chemotherapy drugs which elicit significant tumor reduction yet limit toxicity in healthy tissue. Current administration methods assume that chemotherapy combinations at maximum tolerable doses will provide the greatest therapeutic effect – a presumption which often leads to unprecedented side effects. Contrary to traditional administration, we have found that drug ratios rather than total cumulative doses govern combination therapeutic efficacy. In this thesis, we have developed nanoparticles to incorporate synergistic ratios of chemotherapy combinations which significantly inhibit cancer cell growth at lower doses than would be required for their single drug counterparts.
The advantages of multi-drug incorporation in nano-vehicles are many: improved accumulation in tumor tissue via the enhanced permeation and retention effect, limited uptake in healthy tissue, and controlled exposure of tumor tissue to optimal synergistic drug ratios. To exploit these advantages for polychemotherapy delivery, two prominent nanoparticles were investigated: liposomes and polymer-drug conjugates. Liposomes represent the oldest class of nanoparticles, with high drug loading capacities and excellent biocompatibility. Polymer-drug conjugates offer controlled drug incorporations through reaction stoichiometry, and potentially allow for delivery of precise ratios. Here, we show that both vehicles, when armed with synergistic ratios of chemotherapy drugs, significantly inhibit tumor growth in an aggressive mouse breast carcinoma model. Furthermore, versatile drug incorporation methods investigated here can be broadly applied to various agents. Findings from our research can potentially widen the therapeutic window of chemotherapy combinations by emphasizing investigations of optimal drug ratios rather than maximum drug doses and by identifying appropriate nanoparticles for their delivery. Application of these concepts can ultimately help capture the full therapeutic potential of combination regimens.