Sphyingolipid-Derived Cancer Nanotherapeutics

Case ID:

This invention is an improvement to a commonly used drug delivery vehicle: liposomes. Liposomes, while useful for their improved pharmacokinetics, have not demonstrated significantly improved efficacy and patient survival. This may be in part due to the fact that generally only one drug can be loaded per liposome. However, this technology allows co-delivery of multiple drugs. Coupled with its sphingolipid composition, this technology has the potential to result in therapeutics that not only have improved stability and circulation time, but also greater efficacy in treating patients. It is also a versatile approach that enables the creation of liposomal formulations of drugs which are not currently possible with existing liposomes.



Liposomes (spherical lipid bilayers enclosing an aqueous center) can be used to deliver hydrophilic drugs (in the center cavity) or hydrophobic drugs (within the lipid membrane). Compared to non-liposomal drugs, liposomes circulate in the bloodstream for a longer period of time, and they are also capable of accumulating at the sites of tumors or infections. Improvements to their structures have been made—they can be temperature- or pH-sensitive for controlled release, or coated in PEG to reduce immune detection—but there is still much room for improvement in clinical outcomes. Traditional liposomes compete with other methods of drug delivery, such as lipid nanoparticles and micelles, but this invention is poised to begin a new era of improved liposomes with broader applicability in terms of payload, and improved therapeutic outcomes.



  • Cancer treatment
  • Drug delivery


  • Enhanced stability
  • Ability to co-deliver drugs
  • Reduced systemic toxicity via self-assembly into liposomes
  • Enables currently impossible liposomal formulations to be used
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Katherine Kuhns
Licensing Manager, UAHS-TLA
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Jianqin Lu