Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in America today, but new treatment options might help lower fatality rates.
What are the new devices?
Fox news reports on the new cancer treatment devices.
Experts are starting to stray away from the typical plan of trying to find the right chemicals to treat a person’s tumor. Instead they are moving towards using devices.
What are these two devices?
Two research teams have found a way for doctors to try multiple treatments at once. One way is an implantable device and the other is a special injection device.
“In Seattle, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the company Presage Biosciences designed a device called CIVO that includes up to eight needles arranged in an array. The device can be used to inject multiple drugs into tumors that are close to the surface of a person's skin,” according to Fox.
The first thing the experts do is load the needles with drugs, pressed into the tumor and then withdrawn. Each needle basically leaves behind a column-like trail of a drug that spans the entire depth of the tumor.
What do experts do next?
Between one to three days later, researchers remove a piece of the tumor and examine the cells to see the effect of each drug on the cancer. They look to see whether it terminated the tumor cells, slowed their growth, or had no effect at all. This type of analysis can tell physicians whether a certain drug or set of drugs will work better.
Dr. James Olson, a pediatric oncologist at Fred Hutchinson and the senior author of the CIVO report, commented on the study to Fox. He said,
“Ordinarily, when I write a prescription, I have no way to know if the cancer is resistant. With CIVO, doctors can compare drug A to drug B, the device could also be a boon to drug development, as it allows for controlled experiments that don't require flooding a patient's system with experimental chemotherapy drugs.”
The device has been tested on a few human patients. They all had lymphomas (cancers of the lymph nodes). The patients reported to researchers that they had very little pain from the injections.
At the same time scientists at MIT have built a cylindrical device the size of a rice grain that is riddled with microscopic tubes. Each one of the tubes can contain a different drug, and the device can have up to 30 drugs, according to the researchers' report, which was published this week in Science Translational Medicine.
The system here is different, unlike CIVO, the cylinder is designed to be implanted into the tumor, and then diffusion allows the drugs to shift from the tubes into the cancerous tissue nearby. A biopsy test of the tumor is done after one or two days. A physician then takes out the cylinder and a small amount of the cancer tissue that surrounds it.
Similar to CIVO, the objective is to let doctors look at the cancerous tissue, to see which drugs worked better or which ones didn't work at all. This allows the doctors to figure out whether the patient will benefit from the drug. Doctors are hoping that the ability to test out drugs using such devices could make chemotherapy more comfortable for patients because doctors will know early on whether patients will respond to certain drugs.