Technion Develops Safer Drug Delivery System for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Cancer is the leading cause of death in children over the age of one. There are many impediments to studying different treatments, including the moral challenges involved in conducting clinical trials on minors as well as the physiological differences between adults and children of different ages. An Israeli research team developed a nano-transport system, which is gaining in prominence for transporting cancer-fighting drugs directly to tumors, that is suitable for children. Prof. Alejandro Sosnik of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, together with graduate student Alex Bukchin, discovered that encasing the nano-transport in sugar molecules enhances the absorption of the carrier and therefore triggers the release of the cancer-fighting drug into the targeted malignant cells without harming the healthy tissue. In clinical trials on mice that were injected with tumor biopsies of pediatric cancer patients, the exacting delivery system not only required a 90% lower drug dosage, but also led to a 42% longer lifespan of the mice, all without affecting any healthy cells. The applicability of these findings to children could enable access to a treatment that doesn’t require a complex series of tests from scratch, as the system uses drugs that are already approved, and reduces harmful side effects as a result of the targeted approach. The three-year study, which was conducted by Technion with grants from the European Commission, was published in the Journal of Controlled Release.