Pro­fessor and Stu­dent Develop Mag­netic Cationic Lipo­somes against Cancer Diseases

A pop­ular way to attack malig­nant tumors is using cationic lipo­somes as drug delivery sys­tems. Their task is to target tumor vas­cu­la­ture while affecting as little of the healthy tissue as pos­sible. In order to improve the tar­geting effi­ciency, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Assis­tant Pro­fessor Robert B. Camp­bell, along with his Ph.D. stu­dent, Suman Dan­damudi have been working to develop a more spe­cific drug delivery vehicle by com­bining the elec­tro­static prop­er­ties of cationic lipo­somes with the strength of an exter­nally applied magnet field. Their article describing Phase I of their research, titled “Devel­op­ment and Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Mag­netic Cationic Lipo­somes for Tar­geting Tumor Microvas­cu­la­ture” appeared in the 2007 March issue of BBA (Biochimica et Bio­physica Acta), pub­lished by Sci­enceDi­rect.

The ulti­mate goal is to get the chemother­a­peutic drugs directly to the tumor blood ves­sels and avoid uptake by the healthy tissue,” says Robert B. Camp­bell, Assis­tant Pro­fessor of Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences at the Northeastern’s Bouve Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. “Cationic lipo­somes pref­er­en­tially target tumor ves­sels but do accu­mu­late in some normal healthy tis­sues as well. Our research sug­gests that attracting our cationic lipo­somes (con­taining mag­netite) to the tumor vas­cu­la­ture with a magnet can in fact improve overall dis­tri­b­u­tion in tumors and thereby limit their uptake by the healthy tissue.”

The North­eastern researchers’ work builds upon his pre­vious work con­ducted at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital. Cationic lipo­somes were shown to target tumor ves­sels to a large extent over ves­sels in normal healthy tis­sues, tar­geting approx­i­mately 25% and 5% of the ves­sels, respec­tively. Camp­bell and Dan­damudi intend to sig­nif­i­cantly improve the per­cent of injected dose that can accu­mu­late in the tumor vas­cular compartment.

Their find­ings to date sug­gest that in the pres­ence of an external magnet, magnetite-​​containing cationic lipo­somes are ideal car­riers not only in terms of more accu­rate delivery, but for the pro­longed tumor accu­mu­la­tion of chemother­a­peutic drugs as well.

The authors point out that in addi­tion to get­ting as much of the drug as pos­sible to where it’s needed, it is also impor­tant to keep it there as long as pos­sible. “The group of mice that had mag­nets placed on their tumors during treat­ment retained the lipo­somes longer fol­lowing removal of the magnet than did the mice without access to mag­nets,” Dr. Camp­bell explains.

Camp­bell and Dan­damudi note that mag­netic cationic lipo­somes are most ideal for treat­ment of melanoma, breast cancer and even thy­roid cancer as the appli­ca­tion of the external mag­nets is easier to place and more effec­tive on the skin’s sur­face, near the tumor.

They believe that mag­netic drug tar­geting together with the devel­op­ment of novel nan­otech­nolo­gies can pro­vide addi­tional sup­port in the fight against cancer dis­ease. “We must con­tinue to develop our tech­nolo­gies with an under­standing of our tumor tar­gets, and not inde­pen­dently of them,” adds Dr. Camp­bell. “In light of our recent new twist on the appli­ca­tion and use of external mag­nets for tar­geting tumor ves­sels, we look for­ward to trans­lating our exper­i­mental find­ings from the lab­o­ra­tory set­ting to the clinic.”

Phase II of their research is cur­rently underway and the devel­op­ments will be avail­able soon.

For more infor­ma­tion on the research and a copy of the article, please con­tact Renata Nyul at 617–373-7424 or at r.​nyul@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.