Cerulean has developed a nanopharmaceutical platform that has roots in both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. Our platform enables the design and development of nanopharmaceuticals that are intended to create potent and well tolerated anti-cancer therapies. These therapies may provide patients with hope for both extended overall survival and improved quality of life.
Our nanopharmaceuticals dynamically target tumors by entering through the abnormally large pores associated with tumor blood vessels (see diagram) and gradually releasing their payload inside the tumor over time. As tumors grow, new blood vessels are formed to provide oxygen and nutrients to the growing tumors. These new blood vessels have more loosely arranged endothelial cells than the walls of normal blood vessels, creating comparatively larger pores that Cerulean nanopharmaceuticals exploit as selective entry portals into the tumor tissue. Our nanopharmaceuticals appear to be small enough to penetrate these tumor blood vessels, but are too large to enter healthy tissue. This, combined with reduced drainage of the tumor tissue, appears to provide a selective ‘one-way avenue’ into the tumor tissue. Cerulean nanopharmaceuticals are then actively transported from the tumor tissue into tumor cells. The entry into tumor cells constitutes a second ‘one-way avenue’ because the nanopharmaceuticals appear to be too large to be shuttled out by the tumor cell’s transport pumps. Our research suggests that the nanopharmaceuticals disintegrate over time and dynamically release the active drug from within the tumor cells.
Dynamic tumor targeting is intended to provide two primary benefits:
- By concentrating in tumors and sparing healthy tissue from unwanted exposure, our nanopharmaceuticals should achieve therapeutic results and have relatively limited side effects.
- By gradually breaking apart inside the tumor and releasing the drug payload over time, our nanopharmaceuticals should enhance the ability of the payload to provide the desired therapeutic effect. The linker that attaches the drug to the nanopharmaceutical is selected to provide the optimal intra-tumor drug release.