Development and evaluation of paclitaxel and curcumin dry powder for inhalation lung cancer treatment

Wing-Hin Lee, Ching-Yee Loo, Daniela Traini, Paul M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the effort to develop efficient targeted drug delivery for lung cancer treatment, the outcome remains unsatisfactory with a survival rate of 15% after 5 years of diagnosis. Inhalation formulation is an ideal alternative that could ensure the direct deposition of chemotherapeutics to the lungs. However, the design of an inhalable formulation that could simultaneously achieve a high local chemotherapeutic dose to the solid tumor and exert low pulmonary toxicities is a challenge, as the presence of 10–30% of chemotherapeutics in the lung is sufficient to induce toxicity. Therefore, this study aimed to develop a simple dry powder inhalation (DPI) formulation containing a model chemotherapeutic agent (paclitaxel, PTX) and a natural antioxidant (curcumin, CUR) that acts to protect healthy lung cells from injury during direct lung delivery. The co-jet-milling of CUR and PTX resulted in formulations with suitable aerosol performance, as indicated in the high fine particle fractions (FPF) (>60%) and adequate mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD). The CUR/PTX combination showed a more potent cytotoxic effect against lung cancer cells. This is evident from the induction of apoptosis/necrotic cell death and G2/M cell cycle arrests in both A549 and Calu-3 cells. The increased intracellular ROS, mitochondrial depolarization and reduced ATP content in A549 and Calu-3 cells indicated that the actions of CUR and PTX were associated with mitochondrial oxidative stress. Interestingly, the presence of CUR is crucial to neutralize the cytotoxic effects of PTX against healthy cells (Beas-2B), and this is dose-dependent. This study presents a simple approach to formulating an effective DPI formulation with preferential cytotoxicity towards lung cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • lung cancer
  • paclitaxel
  • curcumin
  • dry powder inhalation


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