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Improving the delivery of cancer drugs to tumours

  • Researcher: Dr Flavio Curnis
  • Institution: Fondazione Centro San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
  • Award Amount: £177,096 for 3 years from January 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Improving the delivery of cancer drugs to tumours
Dr Curnis is using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to develop new ways to deliver cancer drugs to tumours using something called nanodrugs. He has previously contributed to the development of a drug called NGR-TNF, which is in phase II and phase III clinical trials in humans. That means it has already passed many levels of checking and is in the final stages of assessment in humans. NGR-TNF drug is capable of increasing the penetration of chemotherapeutic drugs deep into the tumour mass and to help the infiltration of immune system cells, which also help attack tumours. NGR-TNF works due to something called a peptide, similar to a postcode, which ensures the drug (or letter) goes to the right place, in this case, blood vessels in the tumour. However, all cancers are different and so a code that works for one cancer may not work for another. Also, more than one code may work for the same tumour. Dr Curnis has now developed several new codes and this is what he is going to test -how good are these codes for the delivery of TNF, something that is well-known for damaging tumour blood vessels. Dr Curnis will produce new TNF-based nanodrugs loaded with these new codes and he will look at how good they are at getting to a tumour and killing it, whilst having no other toxic effects on the body. He will do this by testing the nanodrugs alone and alongside standard chemotherapy to see if it makes an even more potent treatment. This work has the potential to improve treatments for many cancer patients in the future.
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