Novel device to reduce chemotherapy's harmful side effects

IANS Jan 12, 2019

Researchers have developed a new 3D-printed device that could help reduce side effects of chemotherapy such as hair loss, nausea, and heart failure.


Although chemotherapy can kill cancer cells very effectively, healthy cells also get affected. But if excess chemotherapy drugs could be removed from a patient's bloodstream after they have worked, they might reduce the side effects. 

The new device, developed by researchers from the University of California in the US, absorbs excess drugs before they spread throughout the body. For example, doxorubicin, a chemotherapy drug, kills more tumour cells when given at higher doses. However, most patients cannot tolerate large amounts of the drug because it can cause heart failure, among other side effects. 

But using the device, excess doxorubicin can be filtered out from the blood at locations outside of the tumour to reduce the harmful effects of the drug on the healthy cells. When doxorubicin was injected into a vein, the drug flowed in the bloodstream to the device, the researchers said.

In the study, published in the journal ACS Central Science, the team used a 3D printer to fabricate tiny cylinders made of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate. Inside the cylinders was a square lattice structure that would allow blood cells to pass through it, with a copolymer coating that binds to doxorubicin. 

The researchers tested these absorbers in pigs, inserting them into a vein. When they injected doxorubicin into the same vein, the drug flowed in the bloodstream to the device. By measuring the doxorubicin concentration in the vein at a location after the absorber, the researchers determined that it captured about 64 percent of the drug from the bloodstream. The device could open a new route to help patients fight cancer, enabling reduced side effects or an increased chemotherapy dose, the researchers noted.

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