Implantable device could help shrink pancreatic tumours

New York, Feb 9 (IANS) An implantable device can deliver a particularly toxic cocktail of drugs directly to the highly lethal pancreatic tumours to stunt their growth or in some cases, shrink them — all while showing signs that the rest of the body would be spared of the toxic side effects, new research has found.

“We use the device to hit the primary tumor hard,” said one of the researchers Jen Jen Yeh, associate professor at University of North Carolina School of Medicine in the US.

“It is an exciting approach because there is so little systemic toxicity that it leaves room to administer additional drugs against cancer cells that may have spread in the rest of the body,” Yeh said.

Pancreatic cancer, which has a 75 percent mortality rate within a year of diagnosis – a statistic that has not changed in more than 40 years, the study said.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights the cocktail FOLFIRINOX, a combination of four chemotherapy drugs that has been shown to shrink tumours or halt their growth in nearly a third of pancreatic cancer patients.

It is one of today’s first-line treatments for pancreatic cancer, but it is not suitable for all patients due to its degree of toxicity when delivered through the bloodstream.

The new device, currently tested in mice, delivers the drugs directly to the tumour, providing a viable alternative to sending this toxic cocktail through the bloodstream, limiting harsh effects throughout the rest of the body, the researchers said.

“We are striving to get our device into clinical trials within the next several years,” Joseph DeSimone fromo University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted.

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