New York, Oct 2 (IANS): A team of US scientists has developed a novel sense-and-respond implant technology that could slash cancer-related deaths by more than 50 per cent.
The team from Rice University will fast-track development and testing of the implant, or “hybrid advanced molecular manufacturing regulator (HAMMR) that aims to dramatically improve immunotherapy outcomes for patients with ovarian, pancreatic and other difficult-to-treat cancers.
HAMMR, which is small enough to be implanted with minimally invasive surgery, will monitor cancer and accordingly adjust immunotherapy dose in real time, like a glucose monitor.
“Instead of tethering patients to hospital beds, IV bags and external monitors, we’ll use a minimally invasive procedure to implant a small device that continuously monitors their cancer and adjusts their immunotherapy dose in real time,” said bioengineer Omid Veiseh, associate professor at Rice.
“This kind of ‘closed-loop therapy’ has been used for managing diabetes, where you have a glucose monitor that continuously talks to an insulin pump. But for cancer immunotherapy, it’s revolutionary.”
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health awarded $45 million to fast-track development of the implant, which includes funding for a first-phase clinical trial within five years.
Veiseh explained that the technology is broadly applicable for peritoneal cancers that affect the pancreas, liver, lungs and other organs.
“The first clinical trial will focus on refractory recurrent ovarian cancer, and the benefit of that is that we have an ongoing trial for ovarian cancer with our encapsulated cytokine ‘drug factory’ technology. We'll be able to build on that experience. We have already demonstrated a unique model to go from concept to clinical trial within five years, and HAMMR is the next iteration of that approach.”
“Cancer cells are continually evolving and adapting to therapy. However, currently available diagnostic tools, including radiologic tests, blood assays and biopsies, provide very infrequent and limited snapshots of this dynamic process. As a result, today’s therapies treat cancer as if it were a static disease,” said Dr.Amir Jazaeri, Professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Jazaeri said the technology can transform the status quo by providing real-time data from the tumour environment that can in turn guide more effective and tumour-informed novel therapies.