It could be one of the breakthroughs that were long waited, as a biodegradable implant could stop metastatic cancer and further prevent the spreading of the deadly condition that claims millions of lives each year. There is still hope, and modern medicine is taking small steps forward.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota along with other institutions in the United States were funded to conduct the study on the sponge-like, tiny implant that is 5 millimeters in diameter and will effectively slow down the disease’s progression through the body. It will essentially mop up the cancer cell attempting to travel through the body.
According to Cancer Research in the United Kingdom, 9 out of 10 patients die due to the spread of the disease and metastatic cancer cells travelling through the body, affecting other organs. They break away from the original tumor, flowing through the bloodstream and attach themselves to other parts of our bodies.
The researchers have managed to find a way to slow down the lethal process, which will hopefully be one day developed to cause a complete and sudden stop.
The implant, or “scaffold” is made out of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) or PLG, a biological material that has been approved by the FDA for various uses, that would work as a sponge in attracting metastatic cancer cells attempting to travel through the body. It catches them before they can reach and affect other organs, without worsening or growing the original tumor.
The tests were condoned on mice injected with a form of breast cancer that has been known to be highly metastatic, and were then surgically implanted with the “scaffold” in their fat tissue or abdomen. The theory was that the unknown object within their bodies would trigger a response of the immune system, which will send its cells to fight it off. The immune cells, in turn, would recruit the cancer cells to their ranks and draw them to the sponge.
One month later, it was observed that the theory was indeed correct. After examining the organs and the device itself, the mice who did receive the implant had an exceptional lesser burden on their other organs by 88%. For example, the ratio of cancer cells versus healthy cells in the lung lifted to 1 in 5,400, from the 1 in 645 that were present in the untreated subjects.
According to the researchers, the potential uses of the “scaffold” could be highly successful in offering doctors early warnings that the cancer is indeed spreading through the patient’s body, along with very effectively slowing down the process by drawing the metastatic cancer cells to the device instead of it travelling to other organs.
This could pave the way for future cancer treatments, but there is still the question if it will work just as successfully and safely in humans.
Trials will soon be underway, and hopefully, the innovative treatment will live up to its previous promising results that may stave off the tragic disease and offer patients more invaluable time to live.
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