Paclitaxel delivery to brain tumors from hydrogels: A computational study



Malignant gliomas are aggressive forms of primary brain tumors characterized by a poor prognosis. The most successful treatment so far is the local implantation of polymer carriers (Gliadel® wafers) for the sustained release of carmustine. To improve the effectiveness of local drug treatment, new polymer carriers and pharmacological agents are currently being investigated. Of particular interest is a set of novel thermo-gelling polymers for the controlled release of hydrophobic drugs such as paclitaxel (e.g., OncoGel™). Herein, we use computational mass transport simulations to investigate the effectiveness of paclitaxel delivery from hydrogel-forming polymer carriers. We found similar (within 1–2 mm) therapeutic penetration distances of paclitaxel when released from these hydrogels as compared with carmustine released from Gliadel® wafers. Effective therapeutic concentrations were maintained for >30 days for paclitaxel when released from the hydrogel as compared with 4 days for carmustine released from Gliadel® wafers. Convection in brain tissue prevented the formation of a uniform drug concentration gradient around the implant. In addition, the surface area to volume ratio of the gel is an important factor that should be considered to maintain a controlled release of paclitaxel within the degradation lifetime of the polymer matrix. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011