PBPK modeling-based optimization of site-specific chemo-photodynamic therapy with far-red light-activatable paclitaxel prodrug

Mengjie Li, Luong Nguyen, Bharathiraja Subramaniyan, Moses Bio, Cody J. Peer, Jessica Kindrick, William D. Figg, Sukyung Woo*, Youngjae You

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinically approved therapeutic modality to treat certain types of cancers. However, incomplete ablation of tumor is a challenge. Visible and near IR-activatable prodrug, exhibiting the combined effects of PDT and local chemotherapy, showed better efficacy than PDT alone, without systemic side effects. Site-specifically released chemotherapeutic drugs killed cancer cells surviving from rapid PDT damage via bystander effects. Recently, we developed such a paclitaxel (PTX) prodrug that targets folate receptors. The goals of this study were to determine the optimal treatment conditions, based on modeling, for maximum antitumor efficacy in terms of drug-light interval (DLI), and to investigate the impact of rapid PDT effects on the pharmacokinetic (PK) profiles of the released PTX. PK profiles of the prodrug were determined in key organs and a quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) model was established to simulate PK profiles of the prodrug and the released PTX. Three illumination time points (DLI = 0.5, 9, or 48 h) were selected for the treatment based on the plasma/tumor ratio of the prodrug to achieve V-PDT (vascular targeted-PDT, 0.5 h), C-PDT (cellular targeted-PDT, 48 h), or both V- and C-PDT (9 h). The anti-tumor efficacy of the PTX prodrug was greatly influenced by the DLI. The 9 h DLI group, when both tumor and plasma concentrations of the prodrug were sufficient, showed the best antitumor effect. The clearance of the released PTX from tumor seemed to be largely impacted by blood circulation. Here, QSP modeling was an invaluable tool for rational optimization of the treatment conditions and for a deeper mechanistic understanding of the positive physiological effect of the combination therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Combination therapy
  • Drug delivery
  • Paclitaxel prodrug
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Physiologically based pharmacokinetic model
  • Quantitative system pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'PBPK modeling-based optimization of site-specific chemo-photodynamic therapy with far-red light-activatable paclitaxel prodrug'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this