Revolutionary Device Smaller than a Grain of Rice Successful in Treating Pancreatic Cancer

Revolutionary Device Smaller than a Grain of Rice Successful in Treating Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is definitely one of the most aggressive and, therefore, challenging to cure cancers.

With that being said, some nanomedicine experts from Houston Methodist have discovered a strategy to control it by injecting immunotherapy straight into the tumor with the help of a revolutionary new device smaller than a grain of rice!

That’s right! Researchers from the Houston Methodist Research Institute employed an implanted nanofluidic device they developed to administer CD40 monoclonal antibodies (mAb), a potential immunotherapeutic agent, at a sustained low dose through the nanofluidic drug eluting seed (NDES).

The report detailing their results has been published in Advanced Science. In short, tumors were reduced in mouse models at a fourfold lower dose compared with conventional systemic immunotherapy.

Co-corresponding author of the research, Corrine Ying Xuan Chua, explained that “One of the most exciting findings was the fact that even though the NDES device was inserted only in one of two tumors in the exact same animal model, we noticed shrinkage in the tumor without the device. This means that the local treatment with immunotherapy was able to activate immune response to target other tumors. In fact, one animal model remained tumor free for the 100 days of continued observation.”

Advanced stages of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma are usually when it’s discovered.

Actually, when a patient is diagnosed, roughly 85 percent of them already have a metastatic illness.

Immunotherapy has the potential to treat malignancies for which there were no effective treatments available in the past.

However, because immunotherapy gets administered all over the body, it frequently results in adverse effects that are permanent.

By concentrating the delivery precisely into the tumor, however, the body is shielded from hazardous medications and experiences fewer side effects, ultimately improving the quality of life for patients receiving treatment.

Co-corresponding author Alessandro Grattoni shared that “Our goal is to transform the way that cancer is treated. We see this device as a viable approach to penetrating pancreatic tumors in a minimally invasive and effective manner, allowing for a much more focused therapy with less medication.”

On the International Space Station, scientists from Houston Methodist University are researching a similar nanofluidic delivery system.

The goal of Grattoni’s nanomedicine lab is to develop implantable nanofluidics based systems for the long term, regulated medication delivery and cell transplantation meant to treat chronic illnesses.

A stainless steel gas reservoir with nanochannels inside it makes up the NDES device, which allows the medicine to create a membrane that enables sustained diffusion.

Intratumoral drug eluting implants are a product of other technology businesses, however they are designed for usage for a shorter period of time.

But the Houston Methodist nanofluidic device is made for long term regulated and sustained release, preventing repeated systemic therapy, which frequently results in many negative side effects, which are often even permanent.

The usefulness and safety of this delivery method are still being investigated in the lab, but researchers want to see it available to cancer patients in the next 5 years.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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