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Overcoming cellular and tissue barriers to improve liposomal drug delivery


Forty years of liposome research have demonstrated that the anti-tumor efficacy of liposomal therapies is, in part, driven by three parameters: 1) liposome formulation and lipid biophysics, 2) accumulation and distribution in the tumor, and 3) release of the payload at the site of interest. This thesis outlines three studies that improve on each of these delivery steps. In the first study, we engineer a novel class of zwitterlipids with an inverted headgroup architecture that have remarkable biophysical properties and may be useful for drug delivery applications. After intravenous administration, liposomes accumulate in the tumor by the enhanced permeability and retention effect. However, the tumor stroma often limits liposome efficacy by preventing distribution into the tumor. In the second study, we demonstrate that depletion of hyaluronan in the tumor stroma improves the distribution and efficacy of Doxil® in murine 4T1 tumors. Once a liposome has distributed to the therapeutic site, it must release its payload over the correct timescale. Few facile methods exist to quantify the release of liposome therapeutics in vivo. In the third study, we outline and validate a simple, robust, and quantitative method for tracking the rate and extent of release of liposome contents in vivo. This tool should facilitate a better understanding of the pharmacodynamics of liposome-encapsulated drugs in animals. This work highlights aspects of liposome behavior that have prevented successful clinical translation and proposes alternative approaches to improve liposome drug delivery.

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