Seeds of Change
A nanofluidic device, smaller than a grain of rice, aims to deliver localized immunotherapy without side effects
The continual stream of reminders for check-ups, screenings and family history assessments highlights the seriousness of breast cancer. One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and prognosis is generally good for most subtypes. However, outcomes are poor for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which accounts for roughly 15 percent of all subtypes. Because TNBC lacks specific markers, current therapeutic approaches are limited to non-specific cytotoxic effects, making intratumoral delivery an attractive proposition.
A team led by by Alessandro Grattoni, Professor of Nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute, US, say they have developed a nanofluidic drug-eluting seed (NDES) capable of delivering localized treatment while minimizing side effects. Local implant systems, such as brachytherapy seeds, are already used in the treatment of cancer, but the seed developed by Grattoni’s team is multifunctional in nature – with the capacity to work as both a position indicator and drug delivery system. “Smaller in size than a grain of rice, our device is a tiny implant (seed) that contains the immunotherapy in metal reservoir that can be easily detected via CT imaging,” says Grattoni. “The seed uses a membrane with an array of tiny nanochannels – approximately 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair – to regulate the release of therapeutics locally to achieve a sustained and constant release for weeks to months.”
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