Pancreatic cancer accounts for a small amount of cancers (around 3%), but its evasive nature and drug-resistant mutations make it one of the most deadly forms. One way to fight it is by administering chemotherapy, which keeps the cells vulnerable to radiation, and then attacking the tumor with targeted radiation beams. However, exposure to high doses of radiation creates collateral damage and severe side effects for the patient. A recent New Atlas article discussed a novel delivery system for targeted cancer treatments that aims to combat difficult to treat forms of the disease.
A team of researchers at Duke University developed a radioactive implant that kills tumors. The concept was successfully tested in mice with pancreatic cancer, where it completely eliminated tumors in most of the rodents. The delivery system includes the use of an implant that is placed directly inside the tumor and attacks it from within. The radioactive implant is encased in biocompatible materials that don’t threaten surrounding tissue the way traditional titanium shells do. The team used synthetic chains of amino acids that are liquid at ambient temperatures, but solidify into a stable gel-like material in the warmer body environment. This method was combined with paclitaxel, a common chemotherapy drug, and then injected into cancerous tumors where it saw a 100% response rate.