10 November 2021
How is the development of new techniques to deliver drugs helping to treat cancer?
Despite extraordinary advances in the development of new drugs and biotechnology, cancer continues to represent one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Often the problem lies not with the drugs but rather the difficulty in successfully delivering them to the site of a tumour.
In healthy tissue there is a regular structure of blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to cells, which divide and grow at a steady rate. However, in cancerous tumours, cell division and growth is unregulated. This leads to a chaotic vessel structure and regions of tissue with little or no blood supply. So, when drugs are ingested or injected into the blood stream, not all parts of the tumour are treated. And there is a high risk of recurrence.
Compounding this, in many tumours there is a pressure gradient that resists uptake of drugs from the blood vessels. This means that only a very small fraction is actually delivered. The rest of the drug circulates and is eventually absorbed by healthy tissue, often leading to intolerable side effects.
The goal of the research being carried out in the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) is to develop new methods for delivering anti-cancer drugs that overcome these barriers. In particular, physical stimuli such as ultrasound and magnetic fields are being used to localise the release and improve the distribution of drugs within tumours using micro and nanoscopic bubbles as delivery vehicles.
In this talk, Professor Eleanor Stride presents the new techniques that have been developed to fabricate and characterise these bubbles. And how they are being applied for the treatment of cancer.
Professor Eleanor Stride
Eleanor Stride, FREng, OBE is the Statutory Professor of Biomaterials in the Departments of Engineering Science and the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences. She specialises in the fabrication of nano and microscale devices for targeted drug delivery.
She has published over 180 academic papers, 8 patents and is a director of 2 spin out companies set up to translate her research into clinical practice. She has won multiple awards for her work, including the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists (2020). In 2016 and 2019 she was nominated as one of the top 100 most influential Women in Engineering.