Personalized Medicine × Nanotechnology
The combination of genomic profiling and high-tech targeted drug delivery is opening up a new front in the fight against cancer.
Tamara Minko |
Delivering cancer drugs is a considerable challenge. Many exciting new drugs fail because they prove difficult to deliver safely and effectively. Some may be too toxic in their active form to be delivered systemically, while others are unstable, breaking down rapidly in plasma or not reliably taken up by cells, so that they never reach the tumor at all. Nor are existing drugs being used to their full potential – cancer chemotherapeutics are like a shotgun, mowing down healthy and cancerous cells alike, when what we need is a sniper rifle. Nanotechnology is one way we can improve our aim.
Many cancer drugs act on pathways or receptors found only in a subset of patients. On average, only 25 percent of patients respond to a given cancer drug, compared with 50 or 60 percent of patients receiving asthma or diabetes medication. Clearly, to avoid putting the patient through unnecessary treatment and maximize their chances of a cure, we need to apply personalized medicine – choosing drugs to match the individual circumstances and molecular profile of the patient.
My lab optimizes drug delivery by combining personalized medicine and nanotechnology to create therapies that are specific to the patient and their disease. Nanotechnology can provide the precise targeting we need, while personalized medicine ensures we’re using the right therapeutic bullets.
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