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By: Rakesh Gollen and Beata Sweryda-Krawiec

Rakesh GollenDrug delivery refers to approaches, formulations, technologies, and systems for transporting a pharmaceutical compound in the body as needed to safely achieve its desired therapeutic effect. The ultimate goal of drug delivery research is to help patients by developing clinically useful formulations. In last few decades, many new strategies have been developed and used to treat cancer by improving or replacing conventional methods of drug delivery. Successful translation (from bench to bedside) of potential cancer and gene therapies largely depends on targeted drug delivery strategies.

One common approach for delivery of potent but toxic drugs is in conjugation to macromolecules (peptides, proteins, monoclonal antibodies). Macromolecules, like antisense oligonucleotides, ribozymes, and DNA, demonstrate therapeutic effects as well. The biggest challenge for therapeutic macromolecules is to penetrate tumor cells and demonstrate efficacy; however, macromolecules are unable to cross the cell membrane without the assistance of a delivery system. Their use is complicated by their instability and side effects. Because many protein and peptide drugs have their therapeutic targets inside cells, there is also an important task to bring these drugs into target cells without subjecting them to the lysosomal degradation. Successful noninvasive delivery of these macromolecules depends on nontoxic carriers or vectors, which can efficiently deliver the macromolecular drug intracellularly to exert their therapeutic action inside the cytoplasm or onto the nucleus or other specific organelles, such as lysosomes, mitochondria, or endoplasmic reticulum.

If you are working in the field and will be at the 2017 AAPS National Biotechnology Conference in San Diego May 1–3, please join the session Inaugurating a New Era in Cancer Treatment—Intracellular Delivery on May 1, 2017, sponsored by the AAPS Physical Pharmacy and Biopharmaceutics/Drug-Drug Interaction sections in conjunction with the Target Drug Delivery and Prodrugs focus group. The session will attempt to see what is “hot” in cancer therapy approaches employing novel cell labeling, tracking, and homing technologies needed to enhance efficacy and non-target toxicities.

Rakesh Gollen is an associate director (Clinical Pharmacology) at KinderPharm with dedication to “Bringing Better Medicines to Children of All Age Groups.”
Beata Sweryda-Krawiec, Ph.D., is currently a research leader at Tarveda Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the development of new cancer therapies. For the last eight years, she devoted her research interest towards the advancement of nanomedicine, especially novel drug delivery systems for small molecules, peptides, and nucleotides.