A New Drug Delivery Device Could Increase the lifespan of Cancer Patients

According to recent research conducted by the researchers from University of North Carolina, new device that uses method known as “iontophoresis”, delivers cancer medicines straight into tumors without depending on per-fusion through the bloodstream, could enhance lifespan for sufferers with  breast, pancreatic and other solid cancers, say investigators.Pancreas-thumbnail

In iontophoresis an electrical field pushes chemotherapy medicines directly into the tumor, stopping their development and in some instances, even reducing them, states the research team.

The electrical field is conveyed through electrodes either inserted internally – for instance to deal with a pancreatic tumor or applied on the outside to the skin and to treat an underlying breast tumor.

The UNC investigators explain the iontophoretic system and how they examined it on human pancreatic tumors grafted into mice and dogs, in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Pancreatic cancer is comparatively unusual, however it is the one of the major cause of cancer-related death in the US where reports recommend in 2014 more than 46,000 individuals were identified with the condition and almost 40,000 died of it.

Restrictions of present methods

The major reason 75 percent of individuals who develop pancreatic cancer do not survive over 12 months after diagnosis – a statistic that has not changed in 4 decades, is because by the time the cancer is identified, it is at an advanced phase and tough to treat.

However, while surgery is the best choice for treating pancreatic cancer, not many sufferers can have it simply because by the time their tumor is found it has entwined on its own with main organs and blood vessels.

Present ways of providing chemotherapy are also restricted because the pancreatic cancer cells are well-secured by a fortress of tissue that restricts the perfusion of medicines that could otherwise reduce the tumor or stop it developing.

Also, pancreatic cancer tumors usually do not have a great blood supply, thus restricting the efficiency of drug delivery through the bloodstream. Improving the dose is not a choice because it raises toxicity to the rest of the body.

The new gadget provided drugs into tumors more successfully than IV

In their research, the team revealed that the iontophoretic device supplied chemotherapy medicines into the tumors much more efficiently than the conventional intravenous (IV) method, and also obtained higher concentrations of the medicines in the tumor without raising toxicity to the rest of the body.

For instance, observing the outcome of one test, the authors write:

“Device delivery of gemcitabine in dogs leads in more than 7-fold variation in local drug levels and 25-fold lower systemic drug concentration than the IV treatment.”

Co-author Jen Jen Yeh states that:

“Once this moves to clinical studies, it could shift the model for pancreatic cancer treatments – or any other solid tumors where conventional IV chemotherapy medications are hard to get to.”

Finances for the research came from the University Cancer Research Fund and the National Institutes of Health.