SEP 21, 2021 6:00 PM PDT

Lifesaving TheraSpheres - glass microbeads can target and destroy colorectal tumors

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

The innovative medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific recently showed success in treating patients with colorectal cancer tumors with their tumor-targeting glass microbead therapy, known as TheraSpheres. Their data showed that patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who were treated with TheraSpheres, in conjunction with standard of care chemotherapy treatments, were less likely to show disease progression or death. 

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States with close to 150,000 new diagnoses per year. Approximately 4% of men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at some point in their life. Additionally, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and death rates dramatically increase without early detection and treatment. 

Colorectal cancers start as a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum. The cells in these small growths can become cancerous, begin to rapidly divide, and form tumors. For colorectal cancers, the cancer cells can easily spread throughout the body and metastasize in other organs or tissues. One common organ target in colorectal cancers is the liver and liver-dominant colorectal cancer occurs in approximately one-third of all patients with colorectal cancer. At this stage, the cancer is treatable with therapies which include ablation or removal of the tumor in combination with chemotherapy approaches. However, classical chemotherapy treatments are intravenous and target the entire body which incurs many serious adverse side effects. 

Boston Scientific’s TheraSphere treatment is unique in that it can deliver chemotherapy directly to target tissue and minimize radiation exposure to other healthy tissue. During the treatment, TheraSpheres are delivered directly to the cancer tissues through an arterial catheter. TheraSphere consists of millions of microscopic glass beads that contain the radiation therapy Ytrrium-90, and once injected, the glass beads are absorbed into the tumor directly. Because of their targeted actions, TheraSpheres only affect the region and tissues containing the tumor and the Ytrrium-90 is allowed to diffuse off the beads and throughout the cancerous regions. The glass spheres stay in the tissue permanently but show minimal adverse effects. 

Recent data from the company showed that TheraSphere treatment significantly increases progression-free survival of colorectal cancer, and patients receiving the treatment were 31% less likely to show disease progression or death. TheraSphere therapy was awarded U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this year for another type of cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. However, the data recently presented by the company shows that this targeted delivery system may be successful in treating other types of cancers, including colorectal cancer, and significantly improving or saving the lives of cancer patients. 


Source: Boston ScientificTheraSphereNational Cancer InstituteBoston ScientificFDA

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
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