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How cytotoxins are delivered straight into a cancer tumour

KTH is a world leader in research and development on micro and nanotechnology. Now the technology can be used to make future cancer treatments more effective and with fewer side effects. A remote-controlled miniature drug capsule will make such treatment possible.

Niclas Roxhed, docent i medicintekniska mikro- och nanosystem

There is a great need to be able to deliver drugs with greater precision – preferably direct into the affected organ. New ways of delivering drugs locally in the body could radically improve the possibility of treating severe diseases, such as brain tumours, that currently cannot be cured.

Reduced side effects

Researchers at KTH are developing a new form of minute drug capsules that can be sent into the body to deliver a concentrated dose of cytotoxin straight into a tumour. The capsules are steered using ultrasound. The targeted treatment can lead to better results and also reduce side effects and the risks associated with treatment using powerful drugs.

The capsules are no thicker than a hair and are steered using microcatheter technology all the way to a cancerous tumour in, for example, the brain, liver or lungs. These are organs that are too risky to reach by other methods. Once in place, the drug capsule can deliver regular doses of a drug over a period of time. This would enable patients to have long-term treatment without having to undergo repeated medical procedures.

Patches that deliver medicine

In recent years, KTH has developed several medical technology applications based on the successful research that has been done on micro and nanotechnology. One example is microneedle patches that deliver drugs through the skin or measure blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the researchers have also developed a swallowable capsule that can replace today's insulin syringes.

Key persons

Niclas Roxhed, Associate Professor in Medical Technology Micro and Nanosystems at KTH.

Göran Stemme, Professor of Micro and Nanotechnology, KTH.

Staffan Holmin, Professor of Clinical Neuroimaging at Karolinska Institutet.

KTH's initiative

KTH wants to develop minute drug capsules that are activated on command via external signals. Such capsules can be delivered to all parts of the body thanks to a unique technique of vascular microcatheter injection which delivers targeted treatments to the affected organs and hard-to-reach parts of the body. We now want to develop and verify this unique possibility of remote-controlled drug delivery to all organs of the body.

Why KTH?

KTH is a world leader in the development of micro and nanosystems for medical applications. Together with Karolinska Institutet and Region Stockholm, we have founded the research centre MedtechLabs with an infrastructure for experimental medical technology research. At the centre, researchers and doctors are working together to validate new techniques which can meet specific needs in healthcare. KTH is currently at the very forefront of the development of micro and nanotechnology for medical applications, and several inventions are already being used at hospitals around the world.

How will we achieve our goals?

The development of the new capsules has already begun and additional funding is now needed for research, analysis and testing of the concept. In just two years’ time, the capsules can be validated in an animal model and after another two years, clinical tests can be initiated on humans. The project is expected to run for five to seven years. A postdoctoral researcher with specialist knowledge in biochemistry and cancer tumours has been employed. Further interdisciplinary expertise is required to create the team that can take this new development to successful completion.

Page responsible:Sofia Tatsis
Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Jul 07, 2020