Design of an intraperitoneal drug-release device for advanced ovarian cancer therapy

The goal of this project is to develop a laparoscopically implantable and removable drug delivery device to treat late-stage ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of female deaths in the United States, and roughly three quarters of patients diagnosed each year will die from the disease. The current standard of care is tumor debulking surgery followed by the administration of chemotherapy. The single largest improvement in ovarian cancer care to date has been the introduction of intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy, in which an indwelling catheter is used to infuse chemotherapy directly into the peritoneal cavity. The goal of IP therapy is to maintain a high concentration of drug within the abdomen while limiting drug levels in the blood, and so lower systemic toxicity and side effects; however, peritoneal injection-associated toxicity and catheter-related complications including infections, blockages, and leaks often limit patients’ ability to complete the therapy. An implantable peritoneal device with a steady, low-dose drug delivery profile would optimize peritoneal and systemic drug concentrations and minimize resulting morbidity, offering a major improvement to the standard of care. Our current proof-of-concept studies seek to optimize sustained delivery of cisplatin, which is currently administered IP in humans, in small animal models of ovarian cancer. Future work will include the development of implantable human-scale prototypes as well as an exploration of combination therapy with various chemotherapeutic and targeted agents. Clinical translation of this project would potentially lead to improvements in both treatment outcomes and quality of life in patients with advanced ovarian cancer.

Fig 1. Proposed human device schematic, location post-implantation in the peritoneal cavity, and detail illustrating a possible mechanism for drug release.

Fig 2. Microdevice scale and preparation. The microdevices consist of a cylindrical reservoir with a 180-µm orifice in the center of its cap to control the rate of drug release. The microdevices are filled with cisplatin powder before implantation. A penny is included for scale. [Photos by Alex Lammers]