A group of U.S. scientists said that they developed a type of implant that can trap and prevent from spreading aggressive cancer cells.
Although the device was proven effective only in laboratory mice, researchers hope that it may soon help doctors detect cancer in early stages. The device also blocked invasive cancer cells’ path to other regions of the body and prevented further tumor growth.
The study was published this week in Nature Communications.
According to official data, 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused because medication wasn’t able to rein in tumor growth and prevent cancer spread to other organs and tissue of the patients’ bodies.
The 0.2-inch implant, which is made of organic material that is already in use in other medical instruments, was effective in staving off breast cancer in mice. Breast cancer is one of the cancers with the most rapid tumor growth.
The device was implanted in the ill mice either in their abdominal fat or under their skin. Regardless of its location, the implant attracted like a magnet cancer cells and prevented further cancer spread.
The device mimics the exact process that helps cancer cells move to other regions of the body. When these cells break loose from a tumor they are instantly attracted to immune cells that carry them in other regions of the body.
But when these immune cells detected the implant, which is a foreign object that may be harmful to the body, they attack it drawing tumor cells along. But the study not only showed that the device was effective in luring cancer cells to it. It also reduced the number of these cells in other areas of the body.
Until now, researchers weren’t very good at detecting cancer in its early stages because cancer cells circulating within the body are impossible to detect until they build a large tumor. But the implant can help doctors detect cancer cells in the bloodstream, the team suggests.
The group announced that human clinical trials would start “fairly soon.”
Scientists explained that the device needs to attract and detect cancer cells in humans, too, and needs to be labeled as safe before it can be used in hospitals. The imaging technique that researchers used to detect the cells in bloodstream also needs to be deemed a safe procedure.
As a follow-up, the team plans to perform more experiments on lab mice to better understand how exactly cancer can be detected at an early stage with the new technique.
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