A couple of days ago, we ran a blog post on an implantable oxygen sensor for monitoring tumor growth. In related news, researchers at Purdue University are developing an implantable device using a similar approach to treat tumors. But instead of monitoring oxygen, the device generates the gas in order to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The technology generates oxygen through water electrolysis.
The device targets tumors that are hypoxic, meaning having low levels of oxygen. Hypoxic tumors are difficult to treat using radiation therapy because oxygen amplifies the effectiveness of radiation by helping to form free radicals, which damage a tumor’s genetic material. “So the hypoxic areas [of tumors] are hard to kill,” says Babak Ziaie, a Purdue professor who led the research. “Pancreatic and cervical cancers are notoriously hypoxic. If you generate oxygen you can increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy and also chemotherapy,” he adds.
Ziaie reports that his father is a cancer survivor, who went through many rounds of painful chemotherapy treatment. “This is a new technology that has the potential to improve the effectiveness of such therapy,” he says.
In testing on mice, the research group showed the oxygen generators are effective in treating pancreatic tumors. Measuring less than one centimeter in length, the generators were inserted into tumors using a hypodermic biopsy needle.
Abstract in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering: An Ultrasonically-Powered Implantable Micro Oxygen Generator (IMOG).