Research

Scientists developed a spray gel to reduce post-surgical cancer recurrence

A new anti-cancer gel is thought to reduce the risk of post-surgical cancer tumor recurrence. The study was conducted by a research team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As a result of this experiment, they have developed this gel in sprayable solution form.

The research findings are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and is available online. Click here to view it. The researchers are hopeful that one day the surgeons may use this spray gel after performing a tumor removal surgery.

About the research

The spray or solution when sprayed quickly forms a biodegradable gel that has nanoparticles laden with drugs, it boosts the immune system. The gel has been tested on mice that undergone advanced melanoma removal surgery and showed promising results.

More than half of the mice were tumor free even after the 60 days of the gel treatment. The scientists are sure that the treatment will prevent cancer recurrence at the surgical site as well as from other parts of the body.

Why do tumors recur?

Cancer tumors are dangerous because they may spread to the whole body. The World Health Organization (WHO) terms cancer to be a leading cause of death worldwide. Cancer spreads by a process called metastasis. It is challenging to control this spread, that’s why cancer causes so many deaths.

Many people require surgical removal of cancer tumors. Approximately 95% women at early stages of breast cancer require surgery. However, despite the successful surgical advancements, the chances of cancer recurrence are high.

How does the gel work?

This spray able gel, developed by the research team helps by encapsulating calcium carbonate nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are charged with antibodies that usually attack a protein called CD47.

This CD47 protein is important for the immune system as it signals the cancer cells to avoid destruction. Using this gel at the tumor removal site will help in healing. It will also release antibody-charged nanoparticles slowly.

The researchers considered calcium carbonate to design these nanoparticles because it has this capacity to dissolves slowly that suits the slightly acidic environment of surgical wounds very well. Additionally, calcium carbonate improves the activity of macrophages, the natural body protectors.

What is the significance of this study?

Macrophages are one of the body cells that make up the natural immune system. They are particularly helpful at all stages of tumor progression. Macrophages are developed from white blood cells that are protectors of the body.

These cells fight against all the foreign objects and cellular waste by swallowing them. Due to this property, Macrophages have got their name from Greek language word, meaning “big eaters.”

The gel also activates the T cells of the immune system that work along the body in its defense. The gel has shown promising results but it is still far behind from being commercially available at pharmacies.

For now, this study is set for human trials. The further testing will confirm its optimal dosage for humans.

 

Areeba Hussain

The author is a Medical Microbiologist and a healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. She is an author of six research papers and currently working as a research associate in a Research Lab.

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