Gradual Release of Immunotherapy at Site of Tumor Surgery Prevents Tumors From Returning


Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Summary: A new study by the researchers suggest, it may be possible to prevent tumors from recurring and to eradicate metastatic growths by implanting a gel containing immunotherapy during surgical removal of a tumor.


Surgery is the main treatment option for patients with most solid tumors, but recurrence and metastasis remain significant problems. Even when an entire tumor has been removed, it is common for a small number of tumor cells to remain behind. Indeed, while half of all cancer patients undergo surgery aiming to cure the disease, 40% of such patients experience a recurrence of the disease within five years. Furthermore, it has been shown that the body’s natural process of healing the wound created by surgery can actually spur these residual cancer cells to metastasize to distant parts of the body and form new growths. A new study by the researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute suggests that it may be possible to prevent tumors from recurring and to eradicate metastatic growths by implanting a gel containing immunotherapy during surgical removal of a tumor. The study findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Gel with immune stimulating drug

A biodegradable hydrogel representing those used in the study. Credit: C.G. Park et al., Science Translational Medicine (2018)

In this study, the research team removed breast tumors from mice and placed biodegradable gels containing an immune-stimulating drug in the resulting empty space. The gels released the drug, which switches on a key type of immune cell, over an extended period of time. When researchers examined the animals over the next several months, they found that this approach cured a much higher proportion of mice than the delivery of the drug by other techniques. Not only did the original tumors not recur in the breast, but metastatic tumors in the lungs, far away from the site of drug delivery were eliminated as well. The researchers say the findings, which were duplicated in mice with lung cancer and melanoma, hold immense promise for overcoming two of the greatest obstacles to curing cancer – 1) the tendency of the disease to recur in patients who have undergone surgery to remove solid tumors; and 2) the difficulty in eradicating distant metastases.

Asst. Prof. Michael Goldberg said, “This approach has the potential to deliver immunotherapy in a manner that focuses the therapy at the site of interest during a critical time window”, “We are extremely encouraged by the results of this study and hope that this technology will be adapted for patients for testing in clinical trials in the not-too-distant future.”


More Information: C.G. Park et al, “Extended release of perioperative immunotherapy prevents tumor recurrence and eliminates metastases,” Science Translational Medicine (2018). stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … scitranslmed.aar1916


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