IBM Research and Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Discover Breakthrough for Breast Cancer Drug Delivery

   IBM Research and Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Discover
                 Breakthrough for Breast Cancer Drug Delivery

Novel hydrogel acts as drug delivery depot that reduces tumor size in fewer
treatments than traditional therapies

PR Newswire

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, scientists from IBM
(NYSE: IBM) and Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
(IBN) published a breakthrough drug-delivery technique, demonstrating the
first biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic hydrogel that can deliver
treatment more efficiently to people fighting breast cancer.


Approximately 25% of all breast cancer patients have human epidermal growth
factor receptor 2 (HER2), a specific type of cancerous cell identified in this
study that is considered aggressive because it spreads quickly and has a low
survival rate.

Treatment of breast cancer varies according to the size, stage and rate of
growth, as well as the type of tumor. There are currently three main
categories of post-surgery therapies available: hormone blocking therapy,
chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) therapy.

In the case of antibodies, the drugs are paired with saline and delivered
intravenously into the body. Targeting specific cells or proteins, the
antibodies block specific cell receptors to destroy cancer cells and suppress
tumor growth. However, these drugs are absorbed in the body and have limited
lifetimes and effectiveness when injected directly into the bloodstream.

Recognizing this, IBM and IBN scientists developed a novel synthetic hydrogel
made up of over 96% water and a degradable polymer that is capable of
sequestering a range of cargos from small molecules to large molecules
including mAbs.

It also exhibits many of the biocompatible characteristics of water-soluble
polymers, which hold form in the body without completely dissolving. This
allows the hydrogel to function as a depot for the drug to slow-release its
contents in a targeted location directly at the tumor site over weeks instead
of days. Once the drug has been delivered, the hydrogel biodegrades naturally
and passes through the body.

"Drawing from our experience in materials innovation for electronics
technology, we are now applying these techniques to the quest for improved
health," said Dr. James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM
Research – Almaden. "This hydrogel can help deliver drugs over an extended
period of time without causing a significant immune response, effectively
sending its contents directly to the tumor without harming healthy surrounding

In animal studies done by Singapore's IBN, testing demonstrated improved
results when the antibody was paired and delivered with the hydrogel, even at
low concentration, than on its own.

  oTumor Size: Over the course of 28 days, the tumor shrank 77% when paired
    with the hydrogel via subcutaneous injection at the tumor site as opposed
    to 0% without it by intravenous injection.
  oTreatment Frequency: When paired with the hydrogel and injected
    subcutaneously at a site far away from the tumor, the treatment frequency
    was reduced from 4 to 1 while maintaining a similar therapeutic effect.
    This is when compared to just the antibody solution formulation injected
  oWeight: The ability to target and deliver the drug directly at the tumor
    site allowed for only the infected cells to be eradicated, leaving healthy
    cells alone. This resulted in stable to moderate weight gain during the
    study instead of massive weight loss traditionally associated with cancer
    drug treatments.
  oNon-Toxic: Since the hydrogel is non-toxic, it demonstrated high
    biocompatibility as evidenced by no cellular inflammation with minimal
    immune system response while degrading naturally and passing through the
    body within 6 weeks

"We have developed new, effective materials for nanomedicine, which has been
one of IBN's key research focus areas since 2003. The sustained delivery of
Herceptin from our hydrogel provides greater anti-tumor efficacy and reduces
injection frequency. 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," said Dr. Yi Yan Yang,
Group Leader, Nanomedicine, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology,

The IBM nanomedicine polymer program - which started in IBM's Research labs
four years ago with the mission to improve human health – stems from decades
of materials development traditionally used for semiconductor technologies.
This advance will expand the scope of IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering
and Nanotechnology's collaborative program, allowing scientists to
simultaneously pursue multiple methods for creating materials to improve
medicine and drug discovery. An industry and institute collaboration of this
scale brings together the minds and resources of several leading scientific
institutions to address the complex challenges in making practical
nanomedicine solutions a reality.

The full research paper was published today in the peer-reviewed journal
Advanced Functional Materials DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201301307.

CONTACT: Christina Howell, 408-927-1407,


Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.