Researchers have discovered a potentially groundbreaking cancer treatment that cures diseased mice in as little as a week.
A research team at Rice University, in Houston, Texas, has built ‘drug factories’, bead-like devices that produce cancer-fighting compounds that support a person’s immune system.
The devices have been tested on mice with both ovarian and colorectal cancer and with great success.
While there is still a long way to go until this type of technology becomes available to humans, the researchers hope they can begin human trials for the device as early as this year.
The drug plants used to treat and cure pancreatic and colorectal cancers in mice are tiny granule-shaped devices that produce cytokines that help the immune system fight tumors. Pictured: Study co-authors Dr Amanda Nash (left) and Dr Omid Veiseh (right) holding flasks of plants
The researchers, who published their findings last week in the journal Science Advance, describe the device as a ‘translatable cytokine delivery platform’.
A cytokine is a small protein that causes inflammation, which is the immune response to many problems in the body.
Interleukin-2, a cytokine, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat certain cancers.
However, the researchers note that high doses of the drug injected into a person could prove to be toxic and dangerous.
Dr Amir Jazaeri, professor of gynecology at Rice and co-author of the study, said: ‘A major challenge in the field of immunotherapy is increasing inflammation and anti-tumor immunity while avoiding these effects. systemic side effects of cytokines and other anti-inflammatory drugs. , said in a statement.
They developed the drug factory in an attempt to solve this problem.
The bead-like device is placed into the body just above or near the cancerous tumor. It then continuously produces compounds that direct the immune system to the tumor – hence the nickname ‘factory’.
It also has a protective coating to prevent it from being destroyed by the immune system before it reaches its destination.
“In this study, we demonstrated that ‘drug factories’ enable stable local administration of interleukin-2 and tumor elimination in several mouse models, This is very interesting.
For some patients, one plant is enough, but some may require multiple plants to create the required dosage.
Some of the mice treated for cancer with the drug factories were cured within a week (file image)
Dr Omid Veiseh, professor of bioengineering at Rice, said: “We only use it once, but the drug factories still make the daily dose, where it’s needed, until it’s eliminated. get rid of cancer”.
‘Once we determined the correct dosage – how many plants we needed – we were able to eliminate tumors in 100% of the animals with ovarian cancer and in seven out of eight animals with cancer Colorectal.’
Veiseh says he expects to start human clinical trials for the device as early as this fall, and the team wants to use the plants to help humans as soon as possible.
Dr. Amanda Nash, co-author of the study, said she believes the devices could also be modified for use against pancreatic, liver and lung cancers, among others.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer, which affects the colon and rectum, is diagnosed in about 150,000 Americans each year, and is the third leading cause of death in men and women in United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ovarian cancer affects nearly 20,000 women each year, killing about 12,000.
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