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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Biotechnology - Oncology - Pharmacology

A Systems Approach for Tumor Pharmacokinetics
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Author: Greg Michael Thurber et al.

by Greg Michael Thurber, Ralph Weissleder

Recent advances in genome inspired target discovery, small molecule screens, development of biological and nanotechnology have led to the introduction of a myriad of new differently sized agents into the clinic. The differences in small and large molecule delivery are becoming increasingly important in combination therapies as well as the use of drugs that modify the physiology of tumors such as anti-angiogenic treatment. The complexity of targeting has led to the development of mathematical models to facilitate understanding, but unfortunately, these studies are often only applicable to a particular molecule, making pharmacokinetic comparisons difficult. Here we develop and describe a framework for categorizing primary pharmacokinetics of drugs in tumors. For modeling purposes, we define drugs not by their mechanism of action but rather their rate-limiting step of delivery. Our simulations account for variations in perfusion, vascularization, interstitial transport, and non-linear local binding and metabolism. Based on a comparison of the fundamental rates determining uptake, drugs were classified into four categories depending on whether uptake is limited by blood flow, extravasation, interstitial diffusion, or local binding and metabolism. Simulations comparing small molecule versus macromolecular drugs show a sharp difference in distribution, which has implications for multi-drug therapies. The tissue-level distribution differs widely in tumors for small molecules versus macromolecular biologic drugs, and this should be considered in the design of agents and treatments. An example using antibodies in mouse xenografts illustrates the different in vivo behavior. This type of transport analysis can be used to aid in model development, experimental data analysis, and imaging and therapeutic agent design.
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