New Technique Predicts Efficacy, Safety of Drug Delivery

Testing method could improve radioembolization technique in cancer treatment.

Researchers have created a novel technique that can potentially aid the development and success rate of cancer treatments involving polymer beads.

This type of cancer treatment, called radioembolization, is typically used to treat hepatocellular carcinoma and colorectal cancer that has metastasized to the liver. For this treatment, polymer beads are injected into arteries that feed the tumor through a catheter.

These polymer beads block blood flow and essentially starve the tumor from oxygen and other nutrients required for survival. The beads release a drug directly to the tumor, which prevents side effects due to the targeted nature of the treatment.

However, drug manufacturers need a way to determine how compositional changes in the polymer beads and the drugs affect patients to ensure that these changes are safe and effective, according to the study published by the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“There was no lab mimic that was able to adequately predict how the drug was released from these drug-eluting beads once they were in the body,” said co-author Dr Laura Waters. “The article describes a way of doing it in the lab. We compared our results with in vivo data and proved that the method worked.”

Researchers used an open-loop flow-through system, and packed the drug-containing beads into an occlusive mass in the system, according to the study. They then pumped a blood-mimicking liquid at different rates through the beads, and varied the quantity of drugs in the beads to determine how different bead and drug compositions affected treatment.

Researchers compared their findings with in vivo data to determine the validity of their simulation, according to the study. This method of testing will be valuable to researchers working with the bead-based technique, so they can make alterations without risking patient harm.

The new research was sponsored by BTG, which manufacturers the beads that are used in this treatment.

“We are continually innovating our drug-eluting bead technologies to introduce new features, such as X-ray visibility or biodegradability,” said Andy Lewis, director of research and development at BTG and industrial supervisor in the collaboration. “It’s important from a product development perspective that if we wanted to put other drugs into the beads, or change anything about their chemistry, we could use this system to predict product behavior before it is given to people.”