Dr. Jennifer Shell was awarded grant funding from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center for her proposed project, “Tumor Targeting Vitamin B12 Derivatives for X-Ray Activated Chemotherapy.” One of 12 proposals submitted, this project received $50,000 for one year. Dr. Shell will work with Dr. Brian Pogue, a PDT and radiotherapy expert, Dr. David Gladstone, who has expertise in medical physics, and Dr. Lesley Jarvis, a specialist in clinical radiotherapy.
The project builds off a novel delivery platform the group developed in which a chemotherapy drug is conjugated to an alkylcobalamin scaffold, a derivative of vitamin B12, and both are transported into cells by receptors. Since pancreatic cancer has an abundance of these receptors, the study will focus on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Because systemically delivered chemotherapy agents cause significant side effects, this study uses targets drug delivery to the tumor to minimize the untargeted systemic effects. In addition, the team’s alkylcobalamin scaffold is photo-activatable so that light can be used to activate the compound and release the chemotherapy selectively in the tumor. The approach is called photopharmaceutical therapy (PPT).