Researchers from Vanderbilt University have discovered an approach to stop cancer cells from activating during therapeutic interventions. More specifically, they are working on an approach to stop cancer cells in their track. They believe that based on this shift in emphasis they might be able to help even late-stage cancer patients—despite the bleakest of situations.
Recently, a local media station, WFMZ, reported on a country music singer, Wade Hayes, and his near-death occurrence with state-four colon cancer. Hayes was living a normal life when severe abdominal pain and bleeding changed everything. Doctors found an orange-sized tumor, which was removed immediately. However, the cancer came back one year later.
Any Therapeutic Intervention Triggers Release of Cells
The Vanderbilt University researchers, including Michael King, chair of biomedical engineering, believe that therapeutic interventions—regardless of type (e.g. chemotherapy, needle biopsy, surgery, etc.) trigger the release of cancer cells to the bloodstream.
A Novel Approach to Stop the Release
King and team devised a way to stop cancer cells in their track, reports WFMZ. While in the lab, they conducted experiments using blood samples from metastatic cancer patients. They injected nanoparticles coated with proteins, which attacked to the white blood cells and, at least in this preclinical research study, the viable cells were actually cleared out within a couple hours of the injection. Perhaps this new experimental approach could work to help late-stage cancer patients?
This team also tested this same approach on mice with one of the most difficult cancers to treat—triple negative breast cancer. The methods, reports the researchers, led to very effective results.
The researchers now hope to commence clinical trials within the next two years. King and team will look at how well treatment directed by genetic testing works in patients who have sold tumors that have progressed after one line of standard treatment.
The King Lab at Vanderbilt University
The King Lab, in Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering interfaces between Cellular Engineering, Drug Delivery and Nanotechnology. They employ tools and concepts from engineering to understand biomedically important processes that occur in the bloodstream, such as cancer metastasis, inflammation, and thrombosis. They have found that tumor cells in the circulation can mimic the physical mechanisms used by white blood cells to traffic through the body and adhere to the blood vessel wall, and we have explored strategies to interrupt this metastasis process by targeting specific adhesion receptors. Microscale flow devices have been developed in the lab that recreate the complex microenvironment of the circulation where inflammation and cancer metastasis occur. They invent new materials as well as consider new processes to treat life threateing, late stage disease.
Michael King, Chair, Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University
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