Ismael D. Bianco, a 1992 Pew Latin American Fellow, is part of a team in Córdoba, Argentina that has discovered a more effective delivery system for Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. Because the drug is insoluble in water, it is traditionally delivered in a solution of castor oil and ethanol, which delays absorption and can cause unwanted patient side effects. . Bianco’s team developed a new delivery system for the drug to bypass its insolubility issues.
The group, headed by Dante Beltramo of the Center for Excellence in Products and Processes (CEPROCOR) at the National University of La Rioja in Córdoba, utilized nanotechnology to create a carrier that delivers the drug directly to the tumor. A sphere of fatty acids, called a micelle, is wrapped around the drug molecule, allowing it to be targeted at cancerous cells. This speeds delivery of the molecule, while stabilizing the drug and causing fewer side effects. La Nacion, one of Argentina’s most prominent Spanish-language publications, reported the finding on April 10, 2015.
Bianco’s research focuses on the use of biopolymers and proteins to develop better pharmaceuticals, as well as veterinary and food products. He was named a Pew Latin American fellow in 1992, and conducted postdoctoral studies under Edward A. Dennis, Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego. He then returned to Argentina to continue his work and contribute to the research landscape in his home country.