Device Hits Tumor with Chemo, Spares Body
Chemotherapy is a life-saving, but devastating experience. It destroys healthy tissue along with cancerous ones, and can leave a person weak, sick and exhausted. But if a new experimental process proves successful in human trials there could be hope targeted therapy.
Researchers have found a way to hit pancreatic cancer hard with a drug-delivery device that puts a lethal combination of four chemo drugs directly into the tumor while limiting the impact on the rest of the body.
The team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested the implantable "iontophoretic device" in mice.
They found that using the iontophoretic device to deliver a particularly toxic mix of four chemotherapy drugs stopped pancreatic tumors in the mice from growing -- and in some cases even shrank them -- while sparing the rest of the body.
Senior author Jen Jen Yeh, an associate professor of surgery and pharmacology in the UNC School of Medicine, says: "It's 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."
Pancreatic cancer is the cause of 7 percent of all cancer deaths and ranks fourth as a cause of cancer death in both men and women every year in the U.S. Surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor is currently the best chance of cure, but only 15 percent of patients have operable tumors.