CABI

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Drug delivery to tumours

During the early growth of a tumour, clusters of cells rapidly proliferate and outstrip the availability of resources such as oxygen. In response, they secrete growth factors to encourage nearby blood vessels to grow branches towards them (a process known as angiogenesis). This unconstrained and rapid growth results in a chaotic, inefficient and leaky network of tumour blood vessels, the structure of which significantly deviates from the well-ordered branching patterns found in normal tissues

This has implications for the treatment of cancer, as many therapies rely on a drug being delivered to the tumour via the blood supply. Tumour blood vessel walls are often very leaky (permeable), allowing fluid to seep into the area surrounding tumour cells and causing a build-up of fluid pressure, which can inhibit the delivery of drugs. Tumours also tend to lack lymph vessels that would normally extract excess fluid; instead, currents ferry fluid from regions of high pressure to low pressure at the margin between the tumour and surrounding normal tissues. So, even if the drug is successfully delivered, retaining it within the tumour can also be challenging.

  3D rendering of tumour blood vessels

We are developing techniques for predicting the delivery of drugs to individual tumours:

Page last modified on 19 jan 12 14:10