An international team of researchers has developed a drug delivery technique that utilizes graphene strips as “flying carpets” to deliver two anticancer drugs sequentially to cancer cells, with each drug targeting the distinct part of the cell where it will be most effective. The technique was found to perform better than either drug in isolation when tested in a mouse model targeting a human lung cancer tumor.
Researchers have attached two drugs — TRAIL and Dox — onto graphene strips. TRAIL is most effective when delivered to the external membrane of a cancer cell, while Dox is most effective when delivered to the nucleus, so the researchers designed the system to deliver the drugs sequentially, with each drug hitting a cancer cell where it will do the most damage.
The paper, “Furin-Mediated Sequential Delivery of Anticancer Cytokine and Small-Molecule Drug Shuttled by Graphene,” was published in early view online Dec. 15 in Advanced Materials. Lead author of the paper is Dr. Tianyue Jiang, a former graduate student in Gu’s lab who is now on faculty at Nanjing Tech University. The co-corresponding author is Dr. Ran Mo, who is also a former postdoctoral researcher in Gu’s lab who is now on faculty at CPU. Co-authors include Wujin Sun, a Ph.D. student in Gu’s lab; Qiuwen Zhu, a Ph.D. student at CPU; Nancy Burns, a Ph.D. student at NC State; and Dr. Saad Khan, Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State.
This research was supported by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute under grant number 1UL1TR001111 and with funding from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill.