MIT's Langer discusses targeted drug delivery

Legendary MIT Professor Robert Langer recently talked to EarthSky about targeted drug delivery and the future of medicine. Among the many activities going on in the Langer Lab is the development of polymer-based drug-delivery systems. The EarthSky interview is directed at a lay audience, so he speaks in very broad strokes, but it is worthwhile reading, anyway, for those who want a basic understanding of what is meant by targeted drug-delivery. Much of the news we cover at FierceDrugDelivery represent variations of some of the basic concepts outlined here by Langer.

He discusses how targeted delivery is preferable to today's methods of drugs indiscriminately circulating throughout the whole body, harming healthy cells as well as sick ones. Langer talks about his work with polymers. "You can make them into all kinds of shapes and forms, including nanoparticles. It's their versatility that makes them so helpful," he says. Langer also describes how polymers and nanoparticles can be tailored to degrade at a specific length of time to release drugs. "We basically have worked out new ways to design nanoparticles that you can inject into the body--that can travel around the body for a long time--but ultimately find the tumor or other diseased state," he says.

Langer says that while targeted drug delivery is the future, it is still in the somewhat distant future. We won't see them really hit the clinic for another 5 to 10 years.

- read and listen to the interview on EarthSky