Polymer therapeutics and the EPR effect.

Research paper by Hiroshi H Maeda

Indexed on: 11 Oct '17Published on: 11 Oct '17Published in: Journal of drug targeting


History of the EPR (enhanced permeability and retention) effect is discussed, which goes back to the analyses of molecular pathology in bacterial infection and edema (extravasation) formation. The first mediator we found for extravasation was bradykinin. Later on, were found nitric oxide and superoxide, then formation of peroxynitrite, that activates procollagenase. In this inflammatory setting many other vascular mediators are involved that are also common to cancer vasculature. Obviously cancer vasculature is defective architechtally, and this makes macromolecular drugs more permeable through the vascular wall. The importance of this pathophysiological event of EPR effect can be applied to macromolecular drug-delivery, or tumor selective delivery, which takes hours to achieve in the primary as well as metastatic tumors, not to mention of the inflamed tissues. The retention of the EPR means that such drugs will be retained in tumor tissues more than days to weeks. This was demonstrated initially, and most dramatically, using SMANCS, a protein-polymer conjugated-drug dissolved in lipid contrast medium (Lipiodol) by administering intraarterially. For disseminating the EPR concept globally, or in the scientific community, Professor Ruth Duncan played a key role at the early stage, as she worked extensively on polymer- therapeutics, and knew its importance.