MIT researchers have created an implantable patch for the administration of three completely different therapies to tumor sites in order to kill and prevent the recurrence of cancer. The hydrogel patch is embedded with gold nanorods that are able to heat up and ablate nearby tissue when illuminated by infrared light. The same rods are also infused with a chemotherapy agent, which is also released when infrared light causes the temperature of the nanorods to rise. In addition to thermal and chemotherapy, the patch also releases RNA gene therapy that targets oncogenes active in the cancer being targeted.
The patch was tested on mice with colorectal cancer and included RNA that blocks colorectal cancer oncogenes. The findings showed that the mice without the patch had a high relapse rate, while animals who first underwent tumor removal surgery and then had the patch applied to clean up the cancer’s remains showed total remission. Even without surgery, the patch worked successfully enough to destroy the tumors.
Next steps will include testing the patch in larger animals and delivering it in a minimally invasive way. The final goal is to allow for a well targeted therapeutic treatment of tumors without seriously affecting the rest of the body.