Allen, Dr. Terry

2001 Winner: Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Technology

Using Stealth To Fight Cancer

Dr. Terry Allen of the University of Alberta, a leader in the field of pharmaceutical biotechnology, has devoted numerous years to the research, design and development of new drug technologies. She has spearheaded advances in two major areas; namely, the use of Stealth liposome technology to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs to tumors, and the development of new anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents derived from marine organisms.

A Genius Solution

Stealth liposome technology uses a simple concept to treat complex disorders. Liposomes are biological capsules used for the delivery of anti-cancer agents targeted to cancer sites of patients. For decades liposomes could not reach diseased areas because they looked like damaged cells to the body’s defense system, triggering their destruction. Dr. Allen realized that if these liposomes could be made to look like normal cells, they would escape premature destruction. This would become known worldwide as Stealth liposomal drug delivery technology. Dr. Allen pioneered this technology by adding a special coating to the liposome surface. With this innovation, the concentration of anti-cancer drugs is successfully increased at the tumours, and kept away from normal healthy tissues, thereby minimizing the serious side effects often associated with cancer treatment.

Promising Applications

In collaboration with a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia, Dr. Allen isolated and identified the development of two unique drugs derived from marine natural products. Now in Phase II clinical trials, one drug displays significant anti-inflammatory effects and shows considerable activity against asthma, without adverse side effects. The second drug reveals significant anti-cancer activity in preclinical studies against cancer cells that have developed a resistance to other anti-cancer drugs.

Dr. Allen is the sole holder of the original Stealth liposome patent and is the primary inventor or co-inventor of another 12 patents. She has published over 170 research articles, lectured in over 22 countries and been asked to consult by scientists around the globe.