22. May 2023

Linda Waldherr: Localized Cancer Treatment with Iontronic Devices: Continuous Chemotherapy and Triggered Release of Therapeutics

Exner Lectures 2023 – Linda Waldherr (MedUni Graz)

The effectiveness of many chemotherapeutic agents in treating cancer is limited by poor delivery efficiency and systemic toxicity. Local chemotherapy approaches utilizing iontronic devices present a promising solution for efficient interference with cancer growth and tumor size reduction. We use iontronic devices with incorporated membranes to enable the continuous delivery of chemotherapeutics with high spatiotemporal resolution.

I will show you how we use these iontronic devices for delivering i) chemotherapeutics per se (iontronic chemotherapy) and ii) for the delivery of a trigger for the release of potent chemotherapeutics via a “click-to-release” mechanism.

Iontronic chemotherapy was performed in a brain tumor model cultivated on a vascularized membrane of a chick embryo. This therapy induced cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and most importantly, inhibition of tumor growth that outperformed other control treatments.

We developed a click-to-release mechanism for triggering the release of a potent prodrug using iontronic devices. We show the first proof-of-principle of this system in vitro in brain tumor cells. The cells were treated with a bound prodrug, which is biocompatible in its bound form. Only when we deliver the trigger molecule via iontronics, both compounds react with each other and the prodrug is released. We observe that the released prodrug is highly toxic for the tumor cells and that we have tight controllability over the on/off state, and therefore the cell killing, of this system.