Biomedicine

Inhaled Drugs

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1328-1329
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5984.1328-c

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and for women in the United States, and patient survival rates have not changed appreciably during the past 30 years. Recently, therapies that target specific genetic alterations in lung cancer cells have offered new hope, but the response to these newer drugs is typically of short duration. Garbuzenko et al. have revisited a conventional cytotoxic drug used clinically for lung cancer treatment (doxorubicin) in order to explore whether it would be possible to increase its efficacy (i) by delivering the drug directly to lung tissue, thereby minimizing damage to healthy cells that are exposed to the drug when it is administered intravenously, and (ii) by simultaneously delivering other drugs that make lung cancer cells less able to develop resistance to doxorubicin. To achieve this, the authors generated liposomes that contained doxorubicin plus two antisense oligonucleotides directed against general drug resistance proteins and that—importantly—were in a form that could be introduced via the air passages into the lungs. Inhalation of this drug formulation by mice bearing lung tumors caused an inhibition of tumor growth with minimal adverse side effects, thus demonstrating that this approach might enable the delivery of higher doses of doxorubicin directly to lung tumors in humans and hence improve clinical outcomes.

CREDIT: THINKSTOCK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107, 10.1073/pnas.1004604107 (2010).

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