Fakultät für Chemie und Pharmazie

Nanomedicine: Targeting cancer cells with sugars

Nanocarriers binding the mannose receptor. Picture: C Hohmann/NIM

Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of death, also because the efficiency of chemotherapeutics is inadequate due to poor delivery to the tumor. Prof. Olivia Merkel and her team develop targeted nanocarrier systems to increase the delivery rates of therapeutic formulations and their specific uptake into the target cells.

 

In the treatment of cancer, there are still several limitations. Especially the delivery of sufficient amounts of active chemotherapeutic drug is difficult. After the conventional intravenous administration, the therapeutic formulation faces some hurdles before reaching the target site. In most cases, the blood circulation time of the active compound is rather short, and a substantial amount of the remaining active drug accumulates in non-target tissues and leads to the known unpleasant and unwanted side-effects in patients.

Therefore, the group of Professor Olivia Merkel focuses on the development of stable and targeted nanocarrier formulations and alternative administration routes. One approach is the targeting of specific sugar receptors expressed on several cancer cells, the mannose and mannose-6-phosphate receptors. The new publication in Advanced Health Materials presents first results of a new approach tested in the Merkel Lab.

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