Research Papers:

Enhancing the Efficacy of Drug-loaded Nanocarriers against Brain Tumors by Targeted Radiation Therapy

Brian C. Baumann, Gary D. Kao, Abdullah Mahmud, Takamasa Harada, Joe Swift, Christina Chapman, Xiangsheng Xu, Dennis E. Discher and Jay F. Dorsey _

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Oncotarget. 2013; 4:64-79. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.777

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Brian C. Baumann1, Gary D. Kao1, Abdullah Mahmud2, Takamasa Harada2, Joe Swift2, Christina Chapman1, Xiangsheng Xu1, Dennis E. Discher2, Jay F. Dorsey1

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2 NanoBio-Polymers Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA


Jay F. Dorsey, email:

Keywords: glioblastoma multiforme, nanocarrier, radiation therapy, brain tumors, chemotherapy

Received: December 12, 2012, Accepted: December 21, 2012, Published: December 23, 2012


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a common, usually lethal disease with a median survival of only ~15 months. It has proven resistant in clinical trials to chemotherapeutic agents such as paclitaxel that are highly effective in vitro, presumably because of impaired drug delivery across the tumor’s blood-brain barrier (BBB). In an effort to increase paclitaxel delivery across the tumor BBB, we linked the drug to a novel filomicelle nanocarrier made with biodegradable poly(ethylene-glycol)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone-r-D,L-lactide) and used precisely collimated radiation therapy (RT) to disrupt the tumor BBB’s permeability in an orthotopic mouse model of GBM. Using a non-invasive bioluminescent imaging technique to assess tumor burden and response to therapy in our model, we demonstrated that the drug-loaded nanocarrier (DLN) alone was ineffective against stereotactically implanted intracranial tumors yet was highly effective against GBM cells in culture and in tumors implanted into the flanks of mice. When targeted cranial RT was used to modulate the tumor BBB, the paclitaxel-loaded nanocarriers became effective against the intracranial tumors. Focused cranial RT improved DLN delivery into the intracranial tumors, significantly improving therapeutic outcomes. Tumor growth was delayed or halted, and survival was extended by >50% (p<0.05) compared to the results obtained with either RT or the DLN alone. Combinations of RT and chemotherapeutic agents linked to nanocarriers would appear to be an area for future investigations that could enhance outcomes in the treatment of human GBM.

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