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Nanoparticles, 'pH phoresis' could improve cancer drug delivery
Date:7/10/2013

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Researchers have developed a concept to potentially improve delivery of drugs for cancer treatment using nanoparticles that concentrate and expand in the presence of higher acidity found in tumor cells.

The concept involves using nanoparticles made of "weak polybases," compounds that expand when transported into environments mimicking tumor cells, which have a higher acidity than surrounding tissues. The researchers used sophisticated modeling to show how the particles would accumulate in regions of higher acidity and remain there long enough to delivery anticancer drugs.

"This phenomenon, which we term pH phoresis, may provide a useful mechanism for improving the delivery of drugs to cancer cells in solid tumor tissues," said You-Yeon Won, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Purue University.

Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic, and those with a higher pH are basic or alkaline. The pH phoresis concept hinges on using synthetic "polymer micelles," tiny drug-delivery spheres that harbor medications in their inner core and contain an outer shell made of a material that has been shown to expand dramatically as the pH changes from alkaline to acidic.

A twofold size increase could result in a similar increase in the efficiency of drug delivery to tumors.

"Such an effect would be a game changer by delivering the proper dose of anticancer drugs inside tumor cells," Won said. "This pH phoresis concept also could be combined readily within other established drug-delivery methodologies, making it potentially practical for medical application."

The concept is described in a research paper that will appear in the Journal of Controlled Release on July 15, and an unedited version appeared online June 19. The paper was written by Won and doctoral student Hoyoung Lee. Findings showed how the micelles' expansion is optimized in the specific pH in tumor cells.

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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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