Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, and the Medical University of Graz, Austria, have developed an electric pump that can deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to the brain accurately. The technology is conceived as implantable in brain tumor resection sites to administer localized chemotherapy for extended periods. It is hoped that this approach can prevent tumor recurrence.
Unfortunately, recurrence of brain tumor after surgical resection is too frequent. It is difficult to remove all traces of the tumor without causing significant damage to healthy brain tissue, and therefore recurrence is inevitable for many patients. The supply of systemic chemotherapy is limited by its side effects and the presence of the blood-brain barrier, which will not allow all chemotherapy drugs to pass through.
Currently, attempts can be made to prevent recurrence by leaving chemotherapy-laden materials at the site of tumor resection. Some examples are chemotherapy-laden wafers that decompose over time and release the drug into nearby tissue. However, these systems only allow limited control of drug release, and this can lead to localized side effects such as cerebral edema and wound healing problems.
The latter technology aims to provide more controllable drug release for tumor resection sites and consists of a small implantable pump designed to deliver gemcitabine, an effective chemotherapy drug that cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Excitingly, unlike many chemotherapy drugs, gemcitabine has minimal toxicity in healthy brain cells, meaning it is well-suited for use in brain tumors, such as glioblastoma.
“Traditional glioblastoma treatment currently used in clinics harms both cancer and neuronal cells,” Linda Waldherr, a researcher involved in the study, said in a press release. “However, with the gemcitabine ion pump, we only address cancer cells, while neurons stay healthy. In addition, our experiments on cultured glioblastoma cells show that more cancer cells are killed when we use the ion pump than when we use manual treatment.
The pump can be described as an organic electronic ion pump. It uses an electric current to accurately administer gemcitabine, which is positively charged, through an ion transport channel. Fortunately, the pump only requires a small current, which is advantageous from a safety perspective when delivering therapy to the brain.
So far, researchers have tested the device with glioblastoma cells in vitro. “This is the first time an ion bomb has been tested as a possible method to treat malignant brain tumors,” said Daniel Simon, another researcher involved in the study. “We have used cancer cells in the laboratory and the results are extremely promising. However, it will probably be five to ten years before we see this new technology used in treatments for brain tumors. “
Study a Advanced materials technologies: Chemotherapy aimed at glioblastoma spheroids with iontronic pump
Via: Linköping University