Supported By The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Scientists Create New Therapeutic Gel That Shows Promise Against Cancerous Tumors
Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine and NC State have created an injectable gel-like scaffold that can hold combination chemo-immunotherapeutic drugs and deliver them locally to tumors in a sequential manner. The results in animal models so far suggest this approach could one day ramp up therapeutic benefits for patients bearing tumors or after removal of the primary tumors.
The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, focused on two specific types of melanoma and breast cancer, but this approach could work in other tissue types. Also, the research showed that this localized delivery of combination therapy significantly inhibited the recurrence of cancer after the primary tumor was surgically removed.
“We’ve created a simple method to use chemotherapy while leveraging the biology of the tumor and our natural defense against foreign invaders to beat back tumor development with limited side effects,” said senior author Zhen Gu, PhD, associate professor in the joint UNC/NCSU Biomedical Engineering Department. “We have a lot more work to do before human clinical trials, but we think this approach holds great promise.”
In our bodies right now, there are normal cells mutating from their typical form and function. Thankfully, as our immune system lets normal cells move along and perform important biological functions, mutated cells are recognized and destroyed. Unfortunately, though, these cells can hijack the system designed to dispatch them. If that happens, these cancerous cells become virtually undetectable, free to multiply unabated, and able to form tumors.