Chemotherapy is a critical treatment strategy for cancer. Decades of research has produced numerous therapeutic agents with different efficacies and mechanisms of action against a broad spectrum of cancer types. The therapeutic effects of many anti-cancer drugs are derived from active compounds formed during metabolism in the liver. Active compounds are transported to target tissues where they exert cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. One of the major drawbacks of anticancer drug metabolism in the liver is that the active agent or by-products of metabolism exert cytotoxic effect on healthy liver cells thereby limiting the effective dosage required for treatment. During treatment of some cancer patients, physicians may have no choice but to alter treatment strategies or stop administration of certain drugs due to liver toxicity. There is a need to develop chemotherapeutic agents which will adequately protect the liver from dose-associated toxicity during chemotherapy whilst enabling clinicians to safely administer higher and more effective doses of cancer therapeutics.
Researchers at the College of Pharmacy have developed chemoprotective nanoparticles which are precisely targeted to the liver to prevent dosage-induced liver toxicity during chemotherapy. Moreover, the nanoparticles are designed to have a controlled release mechanism of action, thereby enhancing sustained liver protection over longer periods of time compared to current chemoprotective agents on the market. Therefore these nanoparticles will enable high concentrations of chemotherapeutic agents to be used (increasing the therapeutic effect) while reducing off target cytotoxicity in the liver.
For the first time, a chemoprotective agent specifically designed to protect the liver from systemic drug treatment is being designed to minimize the risk of liver failure among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Due to its liver specificity and controlled release mechanism of action, it will be more effective at lower doses unlike current state of the art chemoprotective agents which are relatively less effective due to systemic distribution including tissues being targeted for cancer eradication. Moreover, this invention has great potential for prevention of alcohol-induced liver toxicity.