Researchers have avidly searched for an effective way to treat the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.
About 76,000 in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disease every year.
According to experts, if it is caught early, melanoma has a five-year survival rate of about 98%.
However, if the disease spreads before diagnosis and treatment then the five year survival rate decreases to 16.6%.
Researchers have developed a skin patch that delivers cancer immunotherapy drugs directly to the site of the melanoma. The patch is embedded with microneedles and effectively targets melanoma more than other immunotherapy treatment options.
Melanoma is typically treated by surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Immunotherapy is a promising new field of cancer treatment. Immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune system to fight off the disease. T-cells in the immune system are designed to identify and kill cancer cells. T-cells depend on specialized receptors to differentiate healthy cells from cancer cells. Unfortunately, cancer cells can trick t-cells by expressing a protein that binds to a receptor, preventing the T-cell from recognizing and attacking the cancer cell.
Recent cancer immunotherapy research has focused on utilizing programmed cell death antibodies, or anti-PD-1 antibodies, to stop cancer cells from tricking T-cell.
Unfortunately anti-PD-1 antibodies have a few obstacles. First they are usually injected into the bloodstream, so they cannot target the tumor site effectively. Second, the overdose of antibodies can cause side effects such as an autoimmune disorder.
In order to address those challenges, researchers developed a patch that delivers anti-PD-1 antibodies locally to the skin tumor via microneedles. The patch is then applied to a melanoma, allowing blood to enter the microneedles.
Researchers are excited about this technique and are seeking funding to pursue further studies and potential clinical translation.