Glioblastoma (GBM) has a five-year survival under 7 per cent. Surgery and radiation remain the standard of care for patients with these cancers, with chemotherapies playing primarily a supporting role, despite so many drugs showing remarkable benefits in cell models.
One big reason for this are the physiochemical limitations that prevent anti-cancer drugs from both crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and then remaining in the brain. Imagine what would be possible for these patients if we could courier these drugs right to the cancer cells through the BBB.
Ideally, we would have a universal drug delivery vehicle that could simply have different “addresses” (biomarkers specific for given cell surface receptors) attached to it, so once in the brain it goes to only cancer cells. Even better would be a capsule that does not degrade until it enters the target cell where it then tracelessly disintegrates without consequence.
This is precisely the technology we are designing in the Trant Lab: triggerable (i.e. by light, heat, enzymes) polymer nanocapsules that are suitable for crossing the BBB and localizing only to specific cells expressing certain surface markers. This project proposes to show that we can use these to cross a model BBB in zebrafish.