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Nanotechnology Seminar Series

"Anticancer Nanomedicines: Current Status And Future Opportunities"
September 27, 2005

"Anticancer Nanomedicines: Current Status And Future Opportunities"

Speaker Bio:
Ruth Duncan, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell Biology and Drug Delivery
Director, Centre for Polymer Therapeutics
Welsh School of Pharmacy
Cardiff University, Wales, United Kingdom

Ruth Duncan is Professor of Cell Biology and Drug Delivery at the Welsh School of Pharmacy Cardiff University where she directs the Centre for Polymer Therapeutics. She established the UK Cancer Research Campaign's Polymer Controlled Drug Delivery Group at Keele University, UK in the 1980's before joining Pharmacia, Milan as Head of New Technologies. On returning to academia she established the Centre for Polymer Therapeutics at the London School of Pharmacy and relocated to Cardiff in 2000. Throughout she has maintained an interest in the rational for design of polymer therapeutics suitable for transfer into clinical testing. She has produced more than 250 articles, reviews and patents, and her work has been recognised via awards including the Pfizer Prize, Hlasek Medal of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Controlled Release Society Young Investigator Award, The Royal Society for Chemistry Interdisciplinary Award and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences: Monika-Kutzner Prize for Innovation in Cancer Research. She is also an elected member of the Mainz Academy for Science and Literature and in 2004 was Chair of the Steering Committee responsible for the European Science Foundation's Forward Look on Nanomedicine.

Anticancer Nanomedicines: Current Status And Future Opportunities

There is increasing anticipation that nanotechnology, as applied to medicine, will bring significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. This has prompted many governmental and funding agencies to strategically review the field1, and the primary objectives have been to ascertain current status, to establish a common terminology, to assess potential benefits and risks and to establish priorities for future funding initiatives. When a field suddenly becomes fashionable, it is important to keep perspective and, most importantly, distinguish the science fact from science fiction.

Although not widely appreciated, progress in the development of nano-sized hybrid therapeutics and nanosized drug delivery systems over the past decade has been remarkable2-4. Routine clinical use and clinical development of nano-sized drug delivery vectors including liposomes, antibody conjugates, nanoparticles and polymer therapeutics as anticancer treatments is growing rapidly. Indeed, there is widespread anticipation that application of such nanotechnologies in medicine will bring the paradigm shift needed to improve both cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Polymer-protein conjugates5, and polymer-drug conjugates6 represent two new classes of anticancer drug that are already showing significant promise, both as single agents and as components of combination therapy. The current status of this class of agents will be reviewed in more detail.

  1. NIH/NCI Cancer Nanotechnology Plan July 2004; European Science Foundation Forward Look on Nanomedicine Policy Briefing 23 (2005) Ferrari, M. Cancer nanotechnology: Opportunities and challenges. Nature Rev. Cancer 5 161-171 (2005)
  2. Milenic, D.E., Brady, E.D., Brechbiel, M.W. Antibody-targeted radiation cancer therapy. Nature Rev. Drug Disovc. 3, 488-498. (2004).
  3. Torchilin, V.P. Recent advances with liposomes as pharmaceutical carriers. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 4, 145-160 (2005).
  4. Brigger, I., Dubernet, C., Couvreur, P. Nanoparticles in cancer therapy and diagnosis Adv. Drug Del. Rev. 54, 631-651 (2002)
  5. Harris, J. M. & Chess, R. B. Effect of pegylation on pharmaceuticals. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 2, 214-221 (2003).
  6. Duncan, R. The Dawning Era of Polymer Therapeutics. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 2 347-360. (2003); Duncan, R. Polymer-Drug Conjugates. In: Handbook of Anticancer Drug Development, D. Budman, H. Calvert, and E. Rowinsky (Eds.), Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins Philadelphia (2003) pp 239-260; Duncan, R. (2005) N-(2-Hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide copolymer conjugates. In: Polymeric Drug Delivery Systems (Ed. Kwon, G.S.) Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, pp 1-92