at Queen Mary, University of London have developed a delivery method for a
common chemotherapy drug that reduced ovarian cancer tumors in animal
models 65 times more than traditional delivery methods.
Dr. Davidson Ateh, study leader, along with Queen Mary colleagues Joanne Martin
and lain McNeish, have found a way to fool cancer cells into accepting drug-filled
"It's like we've made a re-enactment of the battle of Troy but on the
tiniest scale," said Ateh. "In Troy, the Greeks fooled the Trojans
into accepting a hollow horse full of soldiers -- we've managed to trick cancer
cells into accepting drug-filled microparticles."
Ateh and his colleagues were able to do this by coating small microparticles,
which are about a hundredth the diameter of a human hair, with a protein called
CD95. CD95 attaches to another protein called CD95L, which is more commonly
found on the surface of cancer cells than healthy cells.
CD95 attaches itself to the cancer cells' CD95L, and the cancer cells ingest
the CD95 along with the microparticle. Once inside, the microparticle unloads a
common chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel, which decreases the size of the
"Other researchers had already noticed that cancer cells may use this CD95-CD95L
arrangement to avoid being destroyed by the immune system, which is why they
display more CD95L than normal cells," said Ateh. "We've managed to
turn this to our advantage and hijack the cancer cells' own trick-of-the-trade
to get out 'Trojan Horse' through the gate."
The new method of delivery, which has been dubbed OncoJanTM, has already proved to
reduce ovarian cancer tumors in animal models 65 times more than traditional
delivery methods. Now, the technique is being developed for clinical use. Ateh
helped create the start-up company, called BioMoti, which will develop this
technology for clinical use.
The team plans to encourage other pharmaceutical companies to partner with
BioMoti for clinical development as well.
"There are lots of drugs that we would like to deliver into cells -- not
just chemotherapies -- and this could work for those too," said Martin.
"For example, there are new classes of drugs to treat tumors, such as
biological therapies. If we could load biological therapies in the same
CD95-coated particles, then there's no reason why they couldn't also be
delivered in this way."
study was published in Biomaterials.