Sponge enables less toxic chemotherapy

Sponge enables less toxic chemotherapy

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Medicines achieve breakthrough in cancer treatment

Chemotherapy leads to strong and very unpleasant side effects. Researchers have now developed a way to make cancer chemotherapy less toxic to the body. To do this, they used a device that resembles a tiny sponge that removes excess chemopharmaceuticals (cytostatics) from the blood.

In their research, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley developed a type of sponge that could reduce the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. The results of their study have now been published in the English-language journal "ACS Central Science".

Sponge removes medication from the blood

During their examination, the experts tested a tiny sponge that is in a patient's vein. There he removes excess chemopharmaceuticals from the blood as soon as they have attacked the target tumor, the authors of the study explain. This could avoid various side effects of the treatment, such as hair loss and nausea. So far, this type of treatment has only been used on pigs, but doctors plan to test the device on people in the near future.

Sponge was made with 3D printer

The tubular sponge comes from the 3D printer, so it could be tailored to individual patients, the researchers explain. Its net-like center is coated with a special coating that absorbs the toxic active ingredient, but allows the blood flow to flow freely through the device. Tests in pigs suggested that a cytostatic called doxorubicin was ingested by the sponge and that approximately 64 percent of the drug could be removed from the bloodstream. The sponge seemed to store the drug permanently. After removal, even continuously rinsing the sponge in the laboratory for a period of one month could not solve the drug. This means that the drug cannot leak if the sponge is removed from the body, the scientists explain.

Sponge should be compatible with various chemotherapy drugs

The device was used during chemotherapy and removed after treatment was discontinued. Every chemotherapy session would therefore require a new device, say the doctors. The first results are promising and the device should also be compatible with other chemotherapy drugs if the coating is well coordinated, explains study author Dr. Balsara from the University of California, Berkeley.

Chemotherapy can trigger dangerous side effects

Doctors assume that the removal of 50 percent of the medication has a significant impact on patient treatment. The results of the study are a new approach to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a cornerstone of cancer treatment. It can save lives, but it can also have adverse effects on healthy and cancerous tissue and harm it, which can lead to serious side effects.

More research is needed

The study shows that this new approach to treatment can extract molecules of active ingredients from the blood and remove large amounts of medication that has not been given to cancer in animals, the researchers explain. Now further evidence needs to be found that this technique is safe for the patient. This is the only way the experts can determine whether this new technique is an effective approach for the treatment of cancer patients. (as)

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