Pioneering ‘Drug Factory’ Implants Could Eliminate Cancer

By: | March 9th, 2022

Image courtesy: Rice University

One of the challenges in treating tumors is the difficulty in getting the right doses of anti-cancer drugs to the exact locations.

To tackle both these issues, bio-engineers from Rice University have developed a new type of implant. The implants with drug-producing beads can be implanted with minimally invasive surgery.

Each bead contains cells engineered to produce a natural compound called interleukin 2. Interleukin 2 activates white blood cells into action to fight cancer. Each bead is encased in a protective shell, made from materials that can also be recognized by the immune system to stop it from overreacting to high doses of the drug.

This promising new form of immunotherapy treatment for cancer is like a “drug factory”

The beads have been nicknamed tiny “drug factories”, because they can produce and deliver continuous doses of anti-cancer compounds.

Rice University bioengineers used these implantable “drug factories” (the size of a pinhead) to deliver drugs to treat advanced-stage ovarian and colorectal cancer in mice. The experimental therapy successfully eradicated ovarian tumors in mice within six days. The bead drug factories selectively generated a concentration of interleukin 2 only at the tumor site.

But this experimental therapy is yet to be tested in humans. Researchers plan to start the human clinical trials later this year.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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