A team from IBM Research ($IBM) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore has designed a Vitamin E-based hydrogel that can release Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer antibody Herceptin under the skin for several weeks.
Herceptin, currently approved as an intravenous therapy, targets cancer cells that exhibit human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+), which is present in about one in four breast cancer patients. According to a report in NanoWerk, the IBM and IBN researchers, to reduce the number and duration of the antibody injections, packed Herceptin into a biocompatible and biodegradable hydrogel that could cut the frequency of injections from weekly to monthly.
In mice with HER2+-laden tumors, the hydrogel supplied Herceptin for a prolonged amount of time, shrinking tumors by 77% 28 days after receiving the compound under the skin, according to the abstract published Oct. 31 in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. In that time, the hydrogel also didn't bring about an inflammatory response.
In fact, the hydrogel led to "superior anti-tumor efficacy as compared to intravenous (i.v.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) delivery of Herceptin in solution" because the compound is better retained within the tumor, according to the abstract.
"The sustained delivery of Herceptin from our hydrogel provides greater anti-tumor efficacy and reduces injection frequency," said IBN research leader Yi Yan Yang. "Thus, our approach may help to improve patient compliance, offering a better alternative to existing breast cancer treatments. This technology can also be used to deliver other types of antibodies or proteins to treat different diseases."
The team has filed a patent for the hydrogel tech and is reportedly looking for pharmaceutical partners to help develop it further for the clinic.