Drug ‘factories’ kill cancer in 6 days
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - Almost 20,000 women will be told they have ovarian cancer this year. Almost 13,000 will die from it, and it’s a hard cancer to treat.
Gilda Michel remembers how she felt before she got her diagnosis.
“I was losing a lot of weight. My stomach was not getting any smaller. It was hurting a lot,” Michal says.
It turned out to be worse than she thought.
“I had tumors in my ovaries,” Michel added.
Even with chemo, radiation, and surgery, for people like Michel, diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll survive. But now, researchers at Rice University are trying out a new implantable approach.
A Rice University bioengineer named Omid Veiseh says, “Have this implant actually be loaded with engineered cells, that would secrete a biologic that would activate the immune system.”
Bioengineers implanted drug factories the size of a pinhead to deliver continuous, high doses of Interleukin-2, a natural compound that activates white blood cells to fight cancer.
“Where we need the drug is actually right next to the tumor,” Professor Veiseh explains.
Preliminary studies in mice show it’s working.
“We’ve shown that in as little as six days, we see the cancer completely gone,” Professor Veiseh explains.
It eliminated the tumors in 100 percent of the animals with ovarian cancer. And when the mice were injected a second time with the cells from the same cancerous tumor, they were now protected against it.
Professor Veiseh says, “Which suggests that the immune cells that have learned what the cancer looks like, they can now migrate throughout the body, find and destroy the cancer, wherever it may be.”
The implant is administered just once. But the drug factories keep making the dose every day until the cancer is eliminated.
Human clinical trials could begin as soon as this fall. Researchers believe drug factories could change the way we treat not only cancer, but type one diabetes, immune diseases, and genetic disorders.
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