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Implantable Wireless Device Could Allow Doctors to Eliminate Leftover Cancer Cells During Surgery

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Apr 2022
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Image: Wireless device to provide new options for colorectal cancer treatment (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University)
Image: Wireless device to provide new options for colorectal cancer treatment (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University)

For those diagnosed with colorectal cancer, surgery has been the only option that offers a solution. Unfortunately, surgery is frequently complicated by disease recurrence at the site of the original cancer when microscopic cancer cells are left behind at the time of surgery. Chemotherapy is a treatment option that is often given in conjunction with surgery, although it can lead to toxic side effects. Now, researcher are developing an intracavity device that will allow doctors to eliminate leftover cancer cells during surgery, reducing the need for additional treatments such as chemotherapy.

Researchers at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX, USA) are working to develop a low cost, minimally invasive wireless device that offers precise, safe treatment options for cancers. The researchers will utilize photodynamic therapy (PDT) during surgery by using a photosensitizer - a drug activated by light - to kill the cancer cells. During this process, surgeons will be able to remove the bulk of the tumor, then fully irradiate the tumor bed when the photosensitizer is activated by the light. This combination would result in a complete treatment in a safe and effective way with no toxic side effects.

Although photodynamic therapy has been shown to be effective in many solid tumor cancers, its clinical application has been limited by an incomplete understanding of the differing response of cancer and normal tissue, and a lack of methods to monitor tumor response and adjust light dosage accordingly. To address this gap, the research team has proposed a two-step procedure. First, the photosensitizer drug is administered, which is preferentially taken up by the tumor cells, and then the tumor is illuminated by non-thermal light at a wavelength that matches an absorption spectrum of the drug. Activation of the drug induces a photochemical reaction that triggers tumor cell death.

In the long term, the work will result in a platform that has the potential to provide clinical-quality health monitoring capabilities for continuous use beyond the confines of traditional hospital or laboratory facilities; it will also allow for treatment options to prevent the development of additional malignancy and therefore significantly improve the quality of life for people with cancer. This type of platform would also reduce the huge economic burden on oncology resources, with global oncology spending projected to increase by 23.35% to USD 206 billion in 2022.

“The intracavity device will provide a minimally invasive, biocompatible platform for light detection of residual cancers and delivery to tumor cells located in any part of the body, suggesting it could make an impact in the areas of breast, kidney, lung, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian and rare cancers,” said Sung II Park, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and researcher in the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems at Texas A&M University.

Related Links:
Texas A&M University


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