The long-term goal of the proposed research program is to develop an intravenously (IV) administered lung- targeted nanoparticle (NP)/gel microparticle (GMP) delivery system for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). After the initial diagnosis, greater than half of the patients with localized lung cancer survive at least 5 years suggesting a benefit to an approach that limits metastatic spread from the primary lung cancer. While targeting is an effective approach for improving drug concentrations and minimizing side effects, the options for lung targeting are narrow. Thus, targeted lung delivery approaches for treating NSCLC are urgently needed. Two levels of targeting are proposed. The first is passive targeting. GMPs selectively accumulate in the lung after IV administration. Our compelling preliminary data demonstrates that passive targeting achieves a 10-fold increase in anti-cancer drug potency and 10-fold lower peak systemic drug concentrations. The second is active targeting. Two types of NPs are proposed to achieve active targeting. Using a novel fabrication process, high drug loading into NPs is achieved that overcomes the solubility limitations of hydrophobic cancer drugs. The NP surfaces are functionalized with ligands that selectively target cancer cells. The second NP group is also functionalized with cell surface ligands, however, instead of delivering drug cargo selectively inside the cancer cell, these NPs are engineered to tightly bind to cancer cell surface receptors and remain there in order to inhibit the metastatic signaling cascade. Once the GMPs passively accumulate in the lung, the NPs imbedded in the GMP diffuse out and seek cancer cells resulting in an extraordinary degree of targeting specificity.
Three specific aims are proposed:
AIM 1 : Engineer and evaluate a series of GMPs to achieve (a) optimal passive lung targeting efficiency, retention and elimination and (b) minimal pulmonary toxicity (structural and functional alterations and inflammation) in normal mice and in an orthotropic mouse model of lung cancer.
AIM 2 : Design, fabricate, and assess NPs and GMPs that enhance the pro-apoptotic effect of camptothecin (CPT). Actively targeted NPs will be developed that specifically deliver CPT and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) to lung cancer cells to exploit synergy in tumor cell apoptosis induced by these two chemotherapeutic agents.
AIM 3 : Design, fabricate, and assess CXCR4/7-targeted NPs and GMPs that reduce the occurrence of metastasis. Two active targeting approaches will be investigated: (1) direct CXCR4/7 receptor binding and (2) inhibition of downstream pro-metastatic signaling factors NF-kB, ERK and/or MMP-9. If successful, an injectable lung targeted drug delivery system will be produced that: (1) utilizes passive targeting to exploit the natural flow-filtration pattern of the lung to achieve high local and minimal systemic drug concentrations;(2) exploits synergy in chemotherapy-induced tumor cell apoptosis and active targeting to reduce the required effective drug and MP doses;and (3) utilizes active targeting to reduce the occurrence of metastatic lesions by interfering with the CXCR4/7 - CXCL12 chemokine pathway.

Public Health Relevance

Lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) accounts for the vast majority of lung cancer cases. There is a pressing need to develop new treatment approaches for this highly fatal disease. This project involves the development and evaluation of a novel targeted delivery system (injected intravenously) that uses nanoparticles imbedded into microparticles to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs and other agents specifically to the lungs of patients in order to treat NSCLC and reduce therapy-limiting side effects.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Nanotechnology Study Section (NANO)
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Fu, Yali
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Rutgers University
Schools of Pharmacy
New Brunswick
United States
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