Chemotherapy is typically delivered by IV injection, leading to large amount of the poison reaching the healthy body while tumors don’t get a sufficient dose. Chemotherapy of the pancreas is particularly susceptible to this effect because pancreatic tumors are poorly vascularized, absorbing little of the drug compound. At MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital there’s work on an implantable patch that releases chemo drugs right at the site of treatment for pancreatic cancer patients that would have fewer side effects.
The investigators have already tested the patch on laboratory mice with pancreatic cancer, showing that the patch worked a dozen times better than traditional injections.
It’s made of the commonly used PLGA polymer, or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), and has film-like properties. Within the material chemo compounds are embedded on one side of the patch. The patch is can be rolled into a cylinder, delivered via a catheter to the treatment site, and positioned so that it releases the drugs as close to the cancer as possible.
The researchers compared two groups of mice carrying transplanted human pancreatic tumors. One group received the drug-delivery implant loaded with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, and the other received systemic injections of the same drug for four weeks, which mimics the treatment human patients usually receive.
In mice with the drug-delivery implant, tumor growth slowed, and in some cases tumors shrank. The localized treatment also increased the amount of necrotic tissue (dead cancer cells that are easier to remove surgically). Additionally, by acting as a physical barrier, the film was able to reduce metastasis to nearby organs.
The researchers also found that after four weeks, the concentration of paclitaxel in the tumors of mice with the implanted device was five times greater than in mice that received injections. Also, because there are so few blood vessels in pancreatic tumors, the drug tended to remain there and not spread to nearby organs, preventing toxic effects in healthy tissues.
Study in journal Biomaterials: A tunable delivery platform to provide local chemotherapy for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma…