AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Improving Drug Delivery for Brain Tumor Treatment

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Despite improvements in drug delivery mechanisms, treating brain tumors has remained challenging.

Costas Arvanitis, of Georgia Institute of Technology, studies the processes affecting therapeutic drug penetration into brain tumors. “For a bloodborne therapeutic agent to be effective, it must cross the blood vessel wall to reach cancer cells in adequate quantities,” said Arvanitis. “However, tumors can thwart their effectiveness in many ways.”

While tumors are known to compromise the integrity of the blood brain barrier — a specialized vessel wall evolved to keep the brain “safe” — the makeup of the barrier is inconsistent, which prevents drugs from being uniformly distributed throughout the tumor. Unfortunately, increasing dosages to help improve drug delivery is not possible due to the adverse effects caused by drug interactions with healthy tissue, and drug penetration to the tumor core remains limited.

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