Brain-penetrating nanoparticles improve paclitaxel efficacy in malignant glioma following local administration

Elizabeth Nance, Clark Zhang, Ting Yu Shih, Qingguo Xu, Benjamin S. Schuster, Justin Hanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Poor drug distribution and short drug half-life within tumors strongly limit efficacy of chemotherapies in most cancers, including primary brain tumors. Local or targeted drug delivery via controlled-release polymers is a promising strategy to treat infiltrative brain tumors, which cannot be completely removed surgically. However, drug penetration is limited with conventional local therapies since small-molecule drugs often enter the first cell they encounter and travel only short distances from the site of administration. Nanoparticles that avoid adhesive interactions with the tumor extracellular matrix may improve drug distribution and sustain drug release when applied to the tumor area. We have previously shown model polystyrene nanoparticles up to 114 nm in diameter were able to rapidly diffuse in normal brain tissue, but only if coated with an exceptionally dense layer of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) to reduce adhesive interactions. Here, we demonstrate that paclitaxel (PTX)-loaded, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-co-PEG block copolymer nanoparticles with an average diameter of 70 nm were able to diffuse 100-fold faster than similarly sized PTX-loaded PLGA particles (without PEG coatings). Densely PEGylated PTX-loaded nanoparticles significantly delayed tumor growth following local administration to established brain tumors, as compared to PTX-loaded PLGA nanoparticles or unencapsulated PTX. Delayed tumor growth combined with enhanced distribution of drug-loaded PLGA-PEG nanoparticles to the tumor infiltrative front demonstrates that particle penetration within the brain tumor parenchyma improves therapeutic efficacy. The use of drug-loaded brain-penetrating nanoparticles is a promising approach to achieve sustained and more uniform drug delivery to treat aggressive gliomas and potentially other brain disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10655-10664
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 28 2014


  • brain cancer
  • drug delivery
  • nanomedicine
  • particle tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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