Conventional methods of drug administration such as tablets or intravenous injection typically distribute a drug throughout the body. This may be undesirable, however, in the case of drugs which show poor uptake in certain types of tissue and/or produce unwanted side effects. The aim of our research is to develop systems which enable drugs to be encapsulated, targeted to a specific region and released “on demand” in response to an external stimulus, for example exposure to ultrasound. Such systems provide not only a means of controlling the drug concentration and reducing the risk of harmful side-effects, but also control over treatment location and timing.
We have developed novel liposomal encapsulation and surface modification technologies to enable both small-molecule, antibody and virus-based therapeutics to achieve good circulation following injection into the bloodstream, decreasing uptake into non-target tissue and allowing increased accumulation into solid tumours. These constructs are often combined with extracorporeally applied focused ultrasound, shock waves or magnetic fields as stimuli to trigger release of the therapeutic payload and propel it deep into target tissues.