Revolutionary Gel-Based Treatment Cures Brain Tumors in Mice

Revolutionary Gel-Based Treatment Cures Brain Tumors in Mice

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University claim to have created a gel treatment that might be extremely successful in treating a brain tumor that is more often than not deadly.

In a lab mouse trial published last week, it was discovered that the gel combined with surgery completely eliminated all glioblastoma tumors.

However, it will need further investigation and safety testing before we can consider using this technique on human subjects.

The majority of primary tumors in the brain are glioblastomas, which make up around half of all cases of brain cancer.

Although generally uncommon, it is one of the worst cancers.

The National Brain Tumor Society reports that the average duration of survival for those diagnosed with glioblastoma is only 8 months, with a 5-year survival rate of 6.8 percent.

Glioblastoma is thought to cause more than 13,000 American diagnoses per year and more than 10,000 fatalities.

There are several reasons why treating these cancers is challenging. One thing about them is that they frequently have a quick rate of growth.

Treatments also struggle to successfully penetrate the blood-brain barrier, one of the brain’s built-in defenses, where tumors are located.

The fragile architecture of the brain also makes total surgical removal of tumors difficult a lot of the time.

Scientists have recently discovered innovative medicines that may treat brain malignancies more effectively than the accepted practice.

However, scientists from Johns Hopkins and other institutions sought to attempt a brand new strategy, under the direction of chemical and biomolecular engineer Honggang Cui.

They believed they might develop a more effective method of delivering current medications to the brain.

For this, scientists created a solution out of the chemical paclitaxel, an FDA-approved treatment for a number of tumors that transforms into a hydrogel once it enters the brain.

They next added an antibody that targets the CD47 protein.

Many cells naturally have CD47 on their surfaces, but certain cancers employ it to prevent immune cells called macrophages from eating them. Therefore, the antibody’s purpose is to disable this defense.

 If used alone, neither medication would have much of an impact on glioblastoma tumors.

However, the researchers think that the gel might be administered to the brain simultaneously with surgery, filling up the gaps left by the residual tumor and curing it permanently as a result.

The researchers described the outcomes of their work with mice in their latest study, which was published in PNAS.

Surprisingly, all of the mice who underwent surgery and received the gel survived.

Additionally, the gel appeared to prepare their macrophages and immune system to fight glioblastoma.

The mice who survived were even able to fight off cancer on their own when the research team implanted new tumors.

Even in preliminary animal trials, few new medications achieve this level of effectiveness.

And the outcomes are undoubtedly fascinating considering the lackluster performance of the available treatments for glioblastoma.

Cui and his team warn that their study is still in its infancy, however, and that there are still many unanswered concerns, such as whether their gel would function the very same way in a human brain affected by glioblastoma as it does in a mouse brain.

Cui pointed out in an interview for Gizmodo that “Mice have very tiny brains, but we still have to figure out if this can safely work with larger human brains.”


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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