Israeli Researchers Develop Novel Method of Delivering Cancer Drugs

Tel Aviv University scientists say method greatly increases efficiency and reduces toxicity by simultaneously delivering two types of drugs.

Yonatan Blum

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have developed a platform that can deliver two types of drugs simultaneously to cancer patients, directly targeting the affected organ, thereby greatly increasing efficiency and reducing toxicity.

The project, led by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro with Ph.D. candidates Ela Markovsky and Hemda Baabur-Cohen of the physiology and pharmacology departments at the Sackler School of Medicine, is expected to appear on the cover of the August issue of the Journal of Controlled Release, together with an editorial on the subject.

The researchers sought to create an efficient and synergistic cocktail of two drugs that would be dispatched directly to a cancerous growth by means of a nanometric platform. The treatment has been shown to be more efficient and less toxic than current chemotherapy.

Satchi-Fainaro and her team faced the challenge of creating an optimum combination of two drugs: the antibiotic anti-cancer drug doxorubicin and the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel. They also needed to boost the efficacy of the treatment, which Satchi-Fainaro said is frequently compromised because the drugs do not reach tumors simultaneously.

Satchi-Fainaro likens the platform to placing several passengers in one taxi and letting them out at the same address. Everybody gets to the same destination right on time.

The platform, a polymer called polyglycolic acid, was injected with the two drugs into mice with a model of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The platform is designed to move through the body without damaging healthy cells.

Our findings show that the new treatment is significantly safer and more efficient than the same dosage of drugs when they are administered separately, Satchi-Fainaro said.

The professor said the platform's modular nature means it can be suited to a wide variety of drugs and drug combinations. For example, it can deliver chemotherapy drugs that strike the area around a tumor, stopping the development of the blood vessels that nourish it or healing infections that develop at the site.