Northeastern University

Nano-smart radiotherapy biomaterials for combining radiotherapy & immunotherapy

Geraud Richards with Dr. Wilfred Ngwa (DFCI)

Radiotherapy has been one of the most effective modes of cancer treatment. Over 50 percent of cancer patients receive this treatment and by extent radiotherapy biomaterials such as fiducial markers, ballon applicators, and brachytherapy spacers that require routine implantation to the tumor site are widely used. The current single function of these biomaterials are to ensure geometric accuracy during treatment however, recent studies indicate that Inert radiotherapy biomaterials can be upgraded into “smart” multifunctional biomaterials as they can be designed to respond to specific stimuli and perform drug/nanoparticle payload delivery directly into the tumor subvolume for enhancement of treatment. Current methods of drug delivery such as intravenous injection face issues such as only a small portion of drugs reaching the tumor site and toxification of healthy cells. Smart radiotherapy biomaterials stand to drastically enhance cancer therapy by improving delivery efficiency while limiting healthy cell toxicity by expanding on the uses of already widely used biomaterials. In this project smart radiotherapy biomaterials (SRBs) will be created and loaded with different immunoadjuvant nanoparticles for use in cancer treatment. Two types of SRBs will be examined: Type A consisting of nanoparticles located in the polymer matrix of the SRB and a Type B which contains nanoparticles in the core of the SRB. The release of immunoadjuvant nanoparticles from the SRBs will be examined overtime as a function of its loaded concentrations using imaging techniques like Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and fluorescence. The hypothesis of this study is that SRBs can be used to provide both geometric accuracy (as currently used fiducial markers) and also to deliver immunotherapy payloads. This can enable regression of both irradiated local tumors and distant untreated (metastatic) tumors. To test the hypothesis, different SRB formulations will be investigated and different parameters like polymer weight and type. The distribution of immunoadjujvant nanoparticle/payloads will be imaged and quantified in-vitro and in animals, and the treatment outcomes compared.