Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Guided Medicine

PostedNovember 29, 2019

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Lede: Side effects from treatments like chemotherapy might one day be dramatically reduced by a new method that delivers drugs only to a specific target.

Randy Atkins: The drug target is a liquid that’s injected through the skin at a site such as a tumor. Inside the body, temperature turns it into gel that remains in place…

Matthew Webber: …within tissue for up to about 45 days.

Randy Atkins: Matthew Webber, a chemical engineer at the University of Notre Dame, says then a drug is equipped with a special chemical and given to the patient. That chemical actually weakens the drug as it circulates in the body but, when it finds the gel, it attaches like a key in a lock…and releases the drug into the tumor.

Matthew Webber: So you could administer a big dose of this attenuated compound, have a lot of it concentrate to the site of our gel…otherwise, if it doesn’t find our gel, it’s just cleared in the urine within the matter of an hour or so.

Randy Atkins: Webber says this “molecular zip code” drug delivery is…

Matthew Webber: …potentially tens of thousands fold better than some of the other methods used to target drugs.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.