May 11, 2018

How a novel gel could halt its return

Groundbreaking research has revealed a promising strategy to stop the recurrence of cancer, and it comes in the form of a biodegradable gelResearchers have developed a gel that could help to stop cancer recurrence and metastasis.
Created by scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, the gel was designed to deliver immunotherapy directly to the area from which a cancerous tumor has been surgically removed.
Upon testing the gel on mice during the surgical removal of breast cancer tumors, the scientists found that it not only helped to prevent tumor recurrence at the primary site, but that it also eliminated secondary tumors in the lungs.
Senior study author Michael Goldberg, Ph.D. — of the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — and colleagues recently reported their results in the journal Science Translational Medicine .
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 1.7 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018, and over 600,000 people will die from the disease.
For cancer that forms as solid tumors — such as breast cancer and lung cancer — surgical removal of the tumor is often the primary treatment option.

The problems with immunotherapy
However, as Goldberg explains, even when the tumor is removed, some cancer cells may remain at the site. These can form new tumors, or even spread to other areas of the body. This is a process known as metastasis.
"Indeed, while half of all cancer patients undergo surgery aiming to cure the disease, 40 percent of such patients experience a recurrence of the disease within 5 years," Goldberg notes.
"Furthermore," he adds, "it has been shown that the body's natural process of healing the wound created by surgery can actually spur these residual cancer cells to metastasize to distant parts of the body and form new growths."
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