Cancer chemotherapy treatment is used to kill tumor cells and is more effective at higher doses. However, the applicable dosage levels are limited by potentially severe adverse effects to the rest of the body. In pre-clinical studies using their local drug delivery proof-of-concept system designed for the treatment of certain types of tumors, Philips and TU/e achieved an increased chemotherapy drug dose at the tumor site. Some tumors contain sections poorly supplied with blood, which means that chemotherapy drugs are then not taken up evenly in the tumor. As a result, some regions receive sub-optimal doses and are therefore not effectively treated with chemotherapy. Methods for visualizing and measuring drug uptake in the tumor at time of delivery were demonstrated in the pre-clinical investigations. Such information may give an indication directly after the treatment if drug uptake was sufficient. Based on this additional information, tumors that did not receive a sufficient drug dose due to their morphology may be candidates to receive an alternative therapy.
The research was performed under the leadership of Holger Grüll: professor in the Biomedical NMR research group at the Eindhoven University of Technology and also responsible for research into molecular imaging and therapy at Philips Research. Philips and TU/e have been working together in this exploratory research, which is also part of the EU-funded (Framework 7) European Research project ‘Sonodrugs’, for two years. The work was performed in a designated joint infrastructure in Eindhoven. Grüll and his team used a combination of MRI and ultrasound technologies together with tiny temperature sensitive drug carrying particles (called liposomes) for local chemotherapy drug delivery. The liposomes, injected into the bloodstream, transport the drug around the body and to the tumor. The latter is mildly heated using a focused ultrasound beam causing the temperature-sensitive liposomes in the tumor to release their drug payload. Simultaneous MR imaging is used to locate the tumor, measure local tissue temperature and guide the ultrasound heating. In order to monitor the amount of drug released, the liposomes also contain a clinically used MRI contrast agent which is co-released on heating. The release of the contrast agent can be monitored with MRI, allowing correlated measurements and visualizations of drug uptake in the tumor and surrounding tissue.
The pre-clinical studies from Grüll and his team described in the Journal of Controlled Release paper demonstrated proof-of-concept feasibility of the local drug delivery method and the measurement and visualization of drug release. Further pre-clinical studies are currently being performed to assess the therapeutic value of the technique, which is the next necessary step for clinical translation towards a therapeutic application in patients.
"Image-guided drug delivery technology has the potential to improve chemotherapy cancer treatment for certain types of cancer," commented Henk van Houten, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Philips Research and Program Manager Healthcare. "Researchers from the Philips-TU/e collaboration are among the leaders in developing the MRI, ultrasound and liposome combination technology for local drug delivery. Collaborating with partners and building on Philips' strength in medical imaging, we have shown that early feedback at the time of localized drug delivery treatment is possible, which could ultimately enable more informed treatment planning for better patient outcomes."
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About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people's lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of "sense and simplicity". Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs 119,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 25.4 billion in 2010, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare.
About Eindhoven University of Technology
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is a research driven, design oriented technology university. Its slogan is 'Where innovation starts'. At the heart of TU/e are excellent teaching, high-quality research and world-class knowledge valorization. The Leiden Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) ranked TU/e number 1 worldwide in 2009 for scientific output created in collaboration with industry. Health technology is one of the strategic areas of TU/e’s teaching, research and valorization. Its department of Biomedical Engineering is dedicated to the application of engineering to health issues, with a special focus on regenerative medicine, systems biology and molecular imaging. In the area of imaging, TU/e has a great deal of expertise in in-vivo imaging techniques, molecular imaging, radiochemistry, software technology and image analysis.