Chemotherapy Delivery Device May Improve Survival in Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have developed a device that can deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into pancreatic tumor tissue by using electric fields resulting in prevention and shrinkage of the tumor. Research findings are published in Science Translational Medicine.

The protective tissue layer surrounding pancreatic cancer cells has made it difficult to deliver drugs to either reduce or stop the tumor growth. With a current mortality rate of 75% within one year of diagnosis, use of the new device can potentially increase the amount of patients who are eligible for life-saving surgeries.

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The new device was evaluated for its efficacy in delivering chemotherapeutic drugs to pancreatic cancer tumors and two types of breast cancer tumors. It can be used either internally following a minimally invasive surgery to implant to electrodes on the tumor (relevant for pancreatic cancer and other less accessible tumors) or externally to deliver chemotherapy through the skin (relevant for inflammatory breast cancers, head and neck cancers). The device also showed its ability to enable higher drug concentrations in tumor tissue while avoiding increased systemic toxicity.

Jen Jen Yeh, associate professor of surgery and pharmacology in UNC’s School of Medicine, noted that this new device can have a big impact on pancreatic cancer treatments as well as on other solid tumors where it is difficult to deliver standard IV chemotherapy.

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