Scientists invent tiny brain cancer device that is the size of a grain of rice and could treat glioblastomas that killed Beau Biden and John McCain

Brain surgeons have developed a device the size of a grain of rice that they hope could be a breakthrough in the treatment of deadly brain cancers.

The 6mm long device is implanted on the surface of tumors, where it delivers drugs to the masses to shrink or kill them.

When implanted into difficult-to-treat brain tumors, the device can deliver several different cancer drugs at once. It was tested in six patients with glioblastoma, the deadly brain cancer that killed President Joe Biden’s son, Joseph (Beau) Biden III, and Senator John McCain.

Most people with glioblastoma live an average of 12 to 18 months after diagnosis, and only about seven percent are still alive after five years.

The development of the device is a response to the challenge of finding a targeted way to treat cancer in the shortest possible time. Certain medications can usually only be tried one at a time, making finding the most effective treatment a lengthy process.

A challenge in developing targeted therapies for gliomas in the past has been that it can be difficult to test multiple combinations of drugs in tumor cells because doctors can only treat patients with one method at a time, posing a significant barrier to treating cancers. such as gliomas. combination therapy has proven to be a promising treatment.

However, this small device could be the solution to this challenge, as it can safely deliver up to twenty different cancer drugs into extremely small areas of a patient’s brain tumor during brain surgery.

However, this small device could be the solution to this challenge, as it can safely deliver up to 20 different cancer drugs into extremely small areas of a patient’s brain tumor at once during brain surgery.

Although the device was tested on patients with gliomas, researchers believe it could be used on multiple types of brain tumors, marking a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.

The five-year survival rate for adults with brain cancer ranges from 21 percent to 72 percent.

Dr. Pierpaolo Peruzzi, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s who performed the surgeries, said: ‘To have the greatest impact on how we treat these tumors, we need to be able to understand early on which drug works best for a given patient. .

‘The problem is that the tools currently available to answer this question are simply not good enough.

“So we came up with the idea of ​​turning each patient into their own laboratory, using a device that can directly interrogate the living tumor and give us the information we need.”

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston focused their efforts on a type of brain cancer called gliomas, which affects central nervous system cells that protect crucial neurons.

Specifically, researchers were trying to find the best possible way to treat an extremely aggressive form of glioma called glioblastoma, the deadly brain cancer that killed President Joe Biden’s son, Joseph (Beau) Biden III, and Senator John McCain.

Working with six patients, they placed the small rod-shaped devices, which deliver tiny doses of anti-tumor drugs to highly concentrated areas, in their tumors.

The intratumoral microdevices (IMD) are no longer than six millimeters, about the size of a grain of rice or a pencil point.

Each contains nine different medicationsOne of the drugs loaded into the devices was Temozolomide, a common chemotherapy drug that damages the DNA of cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and growing and ultimately killing them.

The rod-shaped devices were implanted as part of a standard procedure called resection to remove all or part of the cancerous mass. Dr. Peruzzi identified the tumor in each patient and implanted two devices in each device at the start of surgery, approximately 10 to 15 mm apart.

The IMDs remained in the tumor while Dr. Peruzzi worked on surgically removing the mass, giving the microdoses of drugs two to three hours to work within the tumor itself.

Dr. Peruzzi said, “This is not in the lab, and not in a petri dish. It’s actually in real patients in real time, which gives us a whole new perspective on how these tumors respond to treatment.”

He then removed part or all of the tumor and the IMDs, which had infused parts of the tumor with nine different drugs.

From there, the team’s scientists froze the removed mass with the devices attached and were able to see how effective they were at delivering concentrated doses of the drugs to extremely specific parts of the tumors.

“It is important that we can do this in a way that best reflects the characteristics of each patient’s tumor while least disrupting the standard of care,” said Dr. Peruzzi.

‘This allows our approach to be easily integrated into the treatment of patients and applied in practice.’

Their main goal was to determine whether the devices could be safely implanted and whether this type of medical technology could be scaled up for use to treat the 15,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with glioblastoma this year.

Gliomas usually occur in the brain, but can sometimes affect the spinal cord. About a third of all brain tumors are gliomas that originate from glial cells. These cells help support, connect, and protect the neurons of the central nervous system.

Gliomas do not typically travel outside the brain, but are particularly dangerous because they can spread to other tissues in the brain. The most talked-about form of glioma is called glioblastoma.

Brain surgeons classify the growth of brain tumors on a scale of one to four, with grade 1 tumors growing slowly and appearing the least aggressive, while grade 4 tumors spread quickly and aggressively. Glioblastomas are automatically grade 4 tumors when first diagnosed.

The deaths of Beau Biden and Sen. McCain in 2015 and 2018 respectively were both due to highly aggressive glioblastomas. It took less than two years after diagnosis for glioblastoma to kill Mr. Biden, while Senator McCain died just over a year after his diagnosis.

Gliomas are notoriously difficult to treat, and chemotherapy, surgery and other interventions often fall short due to their tentacle-like ability to invade surrounding healthy brain tissue.

The next generation of cancer treatments will increasingly rely on a highly personalized approach that requires tools like Dr. Peruzzi aims to speed up the process of finding the right medicine for each individual patient, optimizing the chance of survival.

Dr. Peruzzi said: ‘The ability to bring the laboratory directly to the patient unlocks so much potential in terms of the type of information we can collect, which is new and exciting territory for a disease that currently has very few options.’