‘Cruise missile’ targets cancer

A University of Nottingham spin-out company has developed a new drug delivery system that works like a ‘cruise missile ‘ to target intestinal cancer.

The ‘Enterion’ capsule, which has taken £1 million and four years for Pharmaceutical Profiles to develop, is swallowed by the patient, tracked through the gut and then activated at the exact place its payload is required.

This method of introducing high concentrations of drugs into a specific area could revolutionize the treatment of bowel cancer.

Currently, among patients being treated for these types of cancers, drugs are digested in the stomach or other parts of the intestine and not enough of the drug reaches the lower part of the bowel. Often this means that larger doses have to be given, which can increase the chances of side effects.

Before using the capsule, doctors insert a camera into the patient ‘s gut to identify the diseased area and where the drugs need to be targeted. The patient then swallows theEnterion capsule with a radioactive drink and its location in the gut is distinguished using a different radioactive signature by using state-of-the-art scanning equipment.

When the capsule reaches the affected area,a magnetic field can be applied from outside, sparking a chain reaction in the capsule that releases the drug.

Professor Bob Davis of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences said the remote-controlled pill was a major step forward.

‘It is a reliable and efficient system – I am not aware of anything that works as well,’ he said.

The pill will need to go through additional clinical trials, a process that could take around five years, before it will be used to directly benefit patients.