Health Updates

Possible New Treatment Eliminates Ovarian and Colorectal Cancer in Days


A possible new treatment eliminates ovarian and colorectal cancer, in mice, in matter of six days.

Possible New Treatment Eliminates Ovarian and Colorectal Cancer in Days
Image: Cancer Cells Mutating | InStyleHealth

In mice, an experimental new type of cancer treatment has shown to be effective in eradicating advanced-stage ovarian and colorectal cancer in as little as six days.

The new therapy has only been tested in mice, so let us not get too thrilled about this yet. Early indications, though, are encouraging, and human clinical trials could begin by the end of the year.

The treatment is the implantation of microscopic 'drug factory' beads into the body that give a continuous, high dose of interleukin-2 (IL2), a natural substance that recruits white blood cells to attack cancer.

"We just give it once, but the drug factories keep creating it every day, where it's needed, until the cancer is gone," says Rice University bioengineer Omid Veiseh. 

"Once we figured out the right dose — how many factories we needed – we were able to eliminate tumors in 100 percent of ovarian cancer patients and seven out of eight colorectal cancer patients."

Interleukin-2 belongs to the cytokine family of immune system-stimulating proteins. Although cytokines are already employed in cancer treatment for melanoma and renal carcinoma, scientists are having trouble getting them to successfully target tumors while avoiding dangerously excessive levels of inflammation elsewhere in the body, which can cause dramatic side effects.

The beads were inserted into the peritoneum, a sac-like membrane that surrounds the intestines, ovaries, and other abdominal organs in this study. As a result, the medications can target cancer directly without adding to the body's volume or weight.

If supplied through IV drip, the dose of interleukin-2 given by these drug factories would be too hazardous, yet it works here because the high concentrations are targeted on the tumor. According to testing, the concentration of the protein elsewhere in the body appears to be roughly 30 times lower than near the tumor.

Each bead includes a hydrogel outer cell that protects the cytokine-producing cells from external attack. The immune system around them recognizes these beads as alien things, but not as urgent threats, allowing them to function. They can then be set to switch off on their own.

"We discovered that foreign body reactions switched off the flow of cytokine from the capsules safely and robustly within 30 days," Veiseh explains. "We also demonstrated that we could safely deliver a second course of treatment in the clinic if it became necessary."

The drug factory beads might be used to treat malignancies elsewhere in the body if a lining is available, and they could be altered to carry different types of medications, according to the researchers. It's a versatile and forward-thinking system.

Furthermore, the medications in question have previously been approved as safe for use in clinical studies, which should expedite the process. The ultimate treatment should be minimally invasive and reasonably simple to perform.

"We proved that the 'drug factories' allow for regulatable local delivery of interleukin-2 and tumor elimination in numerous mice models," says Amir Jazaeri, a professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas. "This establishes a compelling case for clinical testing."

The research findings were first reported in the journal Science Advances.

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