APR 16, 2016 06:38 AM PDT

Implantable Film Shrinks Pancreatic Tumors In Mice

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Flexible film releases chemo drugs directly into tumors in pancreas
MIT researchers recently engineered a flexible polymer implant that can directly release chemotherapy drugs to pancreatic cancer’s home base. The device is small and inserts easily via a catheter, but the biggest advantage is its ability to localize anticancer drugs to the pancreas, a feat that’s difficult to achieve with traditional methods of treatment.
 
Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst mortality rates of all cancer types, largely bcause more than 90 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed at the metastatic stage. While surgery to remove the diseased tissue is the most effective treatment against pancreatic cancer, doctors can only operate in about 15% of the time. Most patients are treated with intravenous chemotherapy with low success because the pancreas lies so deep in the abdomen with few blood vessels to ferry the drug to the targeted site. Consequently, once diagnosed, only one in four patients survive past the one-year mark.
 
 
Researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital knew the key to effective chemotherapy treatment is in localizing the drug to the pancreas. To that end, they created a thin, flexible polymer called PLGA that can attach to the pancreas and release a concentrated dose of drugs directly to the cancer.
 
In experiments with mouse models of pancreatic cancer, the implant loaded paclitaxel – an anticancer drug – yielded much better outcome than traditional injections of the same drug. Specifically, they found that mice with the implant showed a decline in tumor growth, and some even had tumor shrinkage. The concentration of paclitaxel was five times higher in mice with the implant as compared to those with the injections, which led to more cancer tissue death that could be removed surgically.
 
"It's clear there is huge potential for a device that can localize treatment at the disease site," said Laura Indolfi, a postdoc in MIT and first author of the study. "You can implant our device to achieve a localized drug release to control tumor progression and potentially shrink [the tumor] to a size where a surgeon can remove it."
 
The implanted film is only loaded with chemotherapy drugs on the side that attaches to the diseased organ. As such, the film not only acted as a physical barrier to help prevent metastasis, but it also reduced unnecessary drug toxicity to nearby organs.
 
"The greatest benefit of this device is the ability to implant it with minimally invasive procedures so we can give a tool to oncologists and surgeons to reach tumors that otherwise would be difficult to reach," said Indolfi.    The team estimated that for the pancreatic cancer experiment, the implant was 12 times more effective than traditional injection.
 
In the next phase, the team will prepare the device for use in human clinical trials. And though they will focus first on pancreatic cancer, the team sees broad application of their device to many other types of cancers and diseases. They also are planning to improve on the film itself, making it last longer in the body, and imbuing it with more anticancer properties.

Additional sources: EurekAlert!, Fierce Medical Devices 
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 27, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
APR 27, 2018
Stomach Pain Is A Warning Sign for Meningitis
Simply looking out for the classic warning signs of a meningococcal infection may cause some cases to go unnoticed - at first. A new study from the Institu...
MAY 09, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 09, 2018
New "MRI Glove" for Bone and Joint Visualization
The newest in MRI technology literally fits like a glove. NYU School of Medicine scientists have designed an MRI glove that, for the first time, captures c...
MAY 10, 2018
Immunology
MAY 10, 2018
New Biomarker for Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer for both genders and for people all over the globe. This is largely due to the lack of diagnostic...
MAY 15, 2018
Cardiology
MAY 15, 2018
Depression Diagnosis: Serious Concern for Coronary Artery Disease Patients
A new study spearheaded by a long-time cardiology physician assistant (PA) provides evidence for the importance of proactive depression screening for coron...
MAY 30, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 30, 2018
Diagnosing Deadly Kidney Cancers Sooner
Researchers have found that deadly kidney cancers can be identified by assessing their evolutionary path, which is different for distinct types....
JUN 06, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 06, 2018
New and Improved Troponin Test for Future Heart Attack Risk
A test used by doctors in the emergency room to determine if a person is having a heart attack is now equipped to be more sensitive than ever. In addition...
Loading Comments...