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Biomedical ‘net’ could help fight aggressive cancers

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Glioblastoma fighting net
The microMESH could drastically improve brain cancer treatments

A micro-sized polymeric net that has the ability to wrap around tumours could provide a breakthrough in cancer treatment options.

Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) have designed the device which can ‘attack’ tumours by delivering a course of drugs and combining different therapies.

The microMESH is made of biodegradable materials and can provide chemotherapy, nanomedicine and immunotherapy.

It works by attaching itself to the mass of the tumour using its thick but flexible polymeric fibers, with its two main compartments able to release drugs in a precise and prolonged fashion.

This close interaction increases the therapeutic efficiency and could be the start of some long-awaited progress for the treatment of brain tumours.

So far the device has been tested on a glioblastoma, which is an aggressive type of cancer that starts in the brain, where it was shown to be very effective.

It has the potential to be an alternative to current brain tumour treatments, in which there has been little movement for the last 30 years. The statistics show this as both case numbers and death rates remain relatively similar in this period.

Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain tumour, typically affecting those aged between 45 and 75. Most patients will die within a year of their diagnosis, with only five per cent living longer than five years.

This shows the desperate need for new treatments in this area, as surgery to remove part of the tumour followed by chemo or radiotherapy remains the only option currently available for patients.

MicroMESH is not the only recent development in this field, however.

Researchers from Sweden and Austria recently announced that the use of an ion pump could improve outcome for glioblastoma patients of its ability to deliver drugs more accurately.

There have long been calls for graphene to be used to tackle brain cancers since its discovery in 2004, with its high mobility, conductivity and mechanical strength offering huge potential.

University College London also published research recently that had the potential to improve chemotherapy treatments by heating up cancer cells making them easier to kill.

In the short term the designers of microMESH are looking to have the device validated and rolled out for use on glioblastoma patients.

Professor Paolo Decuzzi, head of the IIT Laboratory of Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine, wants to continue to develop the instrument, testing it with different types of drugs and on a variety of other tumours.

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  1. Pingback: 'Swarmbots' and their potential role in new drug delivery systems - Health Tech World

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