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By Mahavir Chougule and Susanne R. Youngren-Ortiz

Mahavir Chougule - finalSusanne Youngren-Ortiz - finalTumors possess distinct physiological features that allow them to resist traditional treatment approaches. The physiological characteristics and the complexity of the biological system, such as tumor stroma, abnormal blood vessels, and chemo-resistance, present significant hurdles to the delivery of therapeutic drugs. Nanotechnology has a great potential in transforming the gene delivery field. To realize its clinical potential requires harmonized efforts among scientists from pharmaceutical science, biology, bioengineering, and medical disciplines. The real potential of nanotechnology for gene delivery will be utilized by targeting the resistant fortress of the tumor microenvironment in solid tumors for enhancing the delivery of therapeutic genes using smart-engineered nanocarriers and bio-imaging.

Mansoor Amiji, Ph.D., and his group at Northeastern University have focused on the use of multimodal strategies that aim at improving drug delivery and residence time within a tumor, as well as altering the resistant cell phenotype (e.g., tumor stem cells) in order to improve clinical outcomes. Mandip Singh Sachdeva, Ph.D., and his group at Florida A&M University have explored small molecular and orally bioavailable antifibrotic agents to disrupt tumor stroma to enhance the penetration of nanocarriers. His team has found that chemotherapy with low-dose oral antifibrotic agents could be a promising approach to improving the delivery of anticancer activity of drugs and nanocarriers by promoting higher uptake in the tumor to improve clinical outcome. Mark Saltzman, Ph.D., and his research group at Yale University have combined brain-penetrating polymeric nanoparticles that can be loaded with drugs and are optimized for intracranial convection-enhanced delivery and repurposed, FDA-approved compounds, which were identified through library screening, to target brain cancer stem cells. This approach provides unique strategy to overcome the challenges for treating brain tumors. These three scientists are leaders in the nanotechnology field, and their research has made a significant impact.

The symposium event Penetrating the Fortress of Microenvironment in Solid Tumors by Smart Nanocarriers, featuring Amiji, Sachdeca, and Saltzman, is scheduled for the upcoming 2016 AAPS National Biotechnology Conference in Boston, on Wednesday, May 18, 8:00 am to 10:30 am. This symposium will address the current paradigm as well as innovative strategies to target the fortress of the tumor microenvironment while tackling the delivery barriers using smart-engineered nanocarriers and bio-imaging. Also, the gap to clinical translation of these technologies will also be addressed. These speakers, who are in multidisciplinary fields in the microenvironment, nanotechnology, bio-engineering, and clinical arenas, will map the roadway of designing smart-engineered nanocarriers and subsequently improve therapeutic outcomes in the clinic.

Mahavir Chougule, Ph.D., M. Pharm., B. Pharm., is an Associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy. His research is focused on nanocarrier based delivery of drugs and siRNA for pulmonary disorders and cancer.
Susanne R. Youngren-Ortiz is a Ph.D. candidate the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Her dissertation research project investigates the optimal delivery and the evaluation of cellular effects of siRNA loaded nanocarriers.