New Approach Developed to Improve Drug Delivery in Tumors

July 19, 2010 By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University of Arizona
Simulated images of microvessel networks

(PhysOrg.com) -- By using mathematical modeling to understand blood flow, researchers -- including the UA's Timothy Secomb, a pioneer in the field -- have proposed a novel approach to treating cancerous tumors.

Researchers know that blood vessels are poor at transporting and cancer-fighting drugs in tumors. Using mathematical modeling, scientists have found a new approach that may improve in the tumor and increase its effectiveness.

Timothy Secomb of the University of Arizona and his colleagues discovered that impaired communication in tumor microvascular networks can lead to the shunting of blood away from some regions of the tumor.

Treatments that inhibit the growth of new vessels, they argue, may help restore communication and improve flow and distribution in tumor blood vessels.

"We know the blood supply in the tumors is abnormal, and we've asked, ‘What's different about it?'" Secomb said. "By improving circulation - getting the vasculature working again - there is a better chance of getting drugs to the tumor."

Secomb collaborated on this work with Axel Pries of Charité in Berlin, Germany, and Mark Dewhirst of Duke University Medical Center. The results were published in the latest online edition of Nature Reviews Cancer.

Secomb is a pioneer in applying mathematical approaches to understanding how blood flows in the smallest branches of the circulatory system. He is a professor in the UA departments of physiology and mathematics and is a member of Arizona Research Laboratories, BIO5 and the Arizona Cancer Center.

In detail, the researchers examined communication along vessel walls, which is needed to coordinate the distribution of . Gap junctions connect the endothelial cells of the vessels. The researchers theorize that the gap junctions do not exist or don't work well in tumors, which lead to loss of communication. The vessel structure in the tumor reflects this breakdown of communication.

Long pathways and shortcuts exist from arteries to the veins. The researchers predicted that, in tumors, the shortcuts tend to grow in diameter, shunting the flow away from the long pathways.

One line of attack is to give a VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) antagonist to improve communication and reduce shunting, which enables better delivery of anti-tumor therapies.

The researchers say that approaches targeted at improving gap junction communication may be able to take advantage of this concept in a more predictable manner.

More information: www.nature.com/nrc/index.html

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New therapeutic gel shows promise against cancerous tumors

February 21, 2018
Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine and NC State have created an injectable gel-like scaffold that can hold combination chemo-immunotherapeutic drugs and deliver them locally to tumors in a sequential manner. The results ...

Five novel genetic changes linked to pancreatic cancer risk

February 21, 2018
In what is believed to be the largest pancreatic cancer genome-wide association study to date, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, and collaborators from over 80 other ...

Kinase inhibitor larotrectinib shows durable anti-tumor abilities

February 21, 2018
Three simultaneous safety and efficacy studies of the drug larotrectinib reported an overall response rate of 75 percent for patients ages four months to 76 years with 17 different cancer diagnoses. All patients had tumors ...

Similarities found in cancer initiation in kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas

February 21, 2018
Recent research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis demonstrated that mature cells in the stomach sometimes revert back to behaving like rapidly dividing stem cells. Now, the researchers have found that ...

Research could change how doctors treat leukemia and other cancers fed by fat

February 21, 2018
Obesity and cancer risk have a mysterious relationship, with obesity increasing the risk for 13 types of cancer. For some cancers—including pediatric cancers—obesity affects survival rates, which are lower for people ...

New technique predicts gene resistance to cancer treatments

February 21, 2018
Yale School of Public Health researchers have developed a new method to predict likely resistance paths to cancer therapeutics, and a methodology to apply it to one of the most frequent cancer-causing genes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.