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Injectable diblock copolypeptide hydrogel provides platform to maintain high local concentrations of taxol and local tumor control

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Abstract Introduction Surgical resection and systemic chemotherapy with temozolomide remain the mainstay for treatment of glioblastoma. However, many patients are not candidates for surgical resection given inaccessible tumor location or poor health status. Furthermore, despite being first line treatment, temozolomide has only limited efficacy. Methods The development of injectable hydrogel-based carrier systems allows for the delivery of a wide range of chemotherapeutics that can achieve high local concentrations, thus potentially avoiding systemic side effects and wide-spread neurotoxicity. To test this modality in a realistic environment, we developed a diblock copolypeptide hydrogel (DCH) capable of carrying and releasing paclitaxel, a compound that we found to be highly potent against primary gliomasphere cells. Results The DCH produced minimal tissue reactivity and was well tolerated in the immune-competent mouse brain. Paclitaxel-loaded hydrogel induced less tissue damage, cellular inflammation and reactive astrocytes than cremaphor-taxol (typical taxol-carrier) or hydrogel alone. In a deep subcortical xenograft model, of glioblastoma in immunodeficient mice, injection of paclitaxel-loaded hydrogel led to a high local concentration of paclitaxel and led to local tumor control and improved survival. However, the tumor cells were highly migratory and were able to eventually escape the area of treatment. Conclusions These findings suggest this technology may be ultimately applicable to patients with deep-seated inoperable tumors, but as currently formulated, complete tumor eradication would be highly unlikely. Future studies should focus on targeting the migratory potential of surviving cells.

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