An antitumor drug can be improved -- and made less toxic -- by linking it to a polymer, according to a report in the March issue of Nature Medicine.
Angiogenesis, or the building of new blood vessels, is essential for tumor growth. The drug TNP-470 slows tumor growth in clinical trials by blocking angiogenesis, but the drug can be toxic to patients. Judah Folkman and colleagues overcame the problem by linking TNP-470 to a water-soluble polymer.
The new 'conjugated' drug accumulated specifically in tumors, and slowed the growth of both skin and lung tumors in mice. But unlike free TNP-470, the conjugated drug did not affect motor coordination or the normal development of mice, and did not cross the blood-brain barrier. The authors suggest that conjugating drugs to polymers might be a new strategy for designing anticancer therapies.
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