Image-Guided Radiotherapy Targets Macromolecules through Altering the Tumor Microenvironment

Current strategies to target tumors with nanomedicines rely on passive delivery via the enhanced permeability and retention effect, leveraging the disorganized tumor microvasculature to promote macromolecule extravasation and the reduced lymphatic and venous drainage that favor retention. Nonetheless, FDA approvals and clinical use of nanomedicines have lagged, reflecting failure to display superiority over conventional formulations. Here, we have exploited image-guided X-irradiation to augment nanoparticle accumulation in tumors. A single 5 Gy dose of radiation, below that required to significantly delay tumor growth, can markedly enhance delivery of macromolecules and nanoparticles. The radiation effect was independent of endothelial cell integrity, suggesting a primary role for damage to microvascular pericytes and/or interstitial extracellular matrix. Significantly, radiation-guided delivery potentiated the therapeutic effects of PEGylated liposomal doxorubicin on experimental tumors. Applied to patients, these results suggest repurposing image-guided radiotherapy as a tool to guide cancer nanomedicine delivery, enhancing local control for primary tumors and metastatic disease while limiting systemic toxicity.

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