A cancer diagnoses usually means radiation therapy that will not only affect the tumor, but healthy cells as well. New approaches to cancer treatment have been tested and, according to data, one approach is working. The new procedure for treating solid tumors with radiation was highly effective and minimally toxic to healthy tissue in a mouse model of cancer.
Brachytherapy is a technique for treating solid tumors, including prostate cancer, which involves the surgical implantation of radioactive seeds within a patient’s tumor. The seeds expose the tumor cells to high level of radiation while minimizing the negative side effects.
However, brachytherapy has its limitations, said Wenge Liu, M.D., Ph.D., and associate research professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University in Durham, NC.
“The most prominent factor is the need for survival implantation and removal of the seeds.”
So the doctor and his team set out to eliminate the need for surgery.
They did this by generating an injectable substance called a polymer that was attached to a source of radioactivity and spontaneously assembled into a radioactive seed after being injected into the tumor.
“We believe that this approach provides a useful alternative to existing brachytherapy, which requires a complicated surgical procedure to implant the radioactive seeds,” Liu said. “Moreover, these injectable seeds degrade after the radiation is exhausted so they do not need to be surgically removed.”
The tumors were eradicated by a single injection in 67 percent of the mice that received the treatment after being transplanted with either a human head and neck cancer or prostate cancer. Injection of the radioactive polymers substantially delayed tumor growth in all mice.
Further analysis indicated no signs that cells outside the tumor had been exposed to significant amounts of radiation.
Source: Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research