A UConn engineering professor has uncovered new information about how particles behave in our bloodstream, an important advancement that could help pharmaceutical scientists develop more effective cancer drugs. Making sure cancer medications reach the leaky blood vessels surrounding most tumor sites is one of the critical aspects of treatment and drug delivery.
Anson Ma, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, used a microfluidic channel device to observe, track, and measure how individual particles behaved in a simulated blood vessel.
What Ma found was that larger particles — the optimum size appeared to be about 2 microns — were most likely to get pushed to the cell-free layer, where their chances of carrying medication into a tumor site are greatest. His research team also determined that 2 microns was the largest size that should be used if particles are going to have any chance of going through the leaky blood vessel walls into the tumor site.
“When it comes to using particles for the delivery of cancer drugs, size matters,” says Ma. “When you have a bigger particle, the chance of it bumping into blood cells is much higher, there are a lot more collisions, and they tend to get pushed to the blood vessel walls.”
—Colin Poitras ’85 (CLAS)