Multiple myeloma (MM) is an inoperable blood cancer that grows within bones. Drug therapy is integral to the treatment of patients with MM; however, it frequently results in debilitating side effects, negatively impacting quality of life. For instance, while the standard-of-care MM drug bortezomib (VELCADE®) is effective at treating the cancer, many patients are plagued by peripheral neuropathy, a painful and highly debilitating nerve condition affecting the hands and feet. This condition frequently necessitates dose reduction or even treatment cessation, which adversely affects patient survival.
One approach to minimise the risk of drug side effects is to improve drug delivery to sites of tumour. In this project, I will investigate novel approaches to selectively increase the delivery of commonly used MM drugs to sites of MM tumour, and the utility of these approaches to effectively treat the cancer and reduce drug side effects will be assessed. Firstly, I will utilise agents that transiently disrupt tumour vasculature, enabling the selective enhancement of drug delivery to sites of MM tumour and thereby an increase in effectiveness of low doses of drugs. Secondly, I will utilise state-of-the-art nanoparticles to selectively deliver drugs to sites of MM tumour, thereby minimising the exposure of normal tissues to drugs.
Ultimately, this project has the potential to reduce the incidence and severity of drug side effects, leading to significantly improved quality of life and survivorship in many patients with MM.