Jan 11, 2019 | By Cameron

A 3D printed “sponge” could absorb excess drugs from entering the bloodstream of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, reducing the side effects of treatment while also allowing for higher dosages to combat more resistant tumors. The toll of cancer doesn’t stop at the illness; the treatments come with their own woes. Chemotherapy side effects include nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and ulcers, just to name a few. Most of those side effects are caused by excess drugs making their way to parts of the body not affected by tumors.

Chemotherapy and other anticancer drugs are poisonous, and the vascular nature of our biology complicates a doctor’s task of delivering just enough anticancer drug to the targeted area to affect the tumor without going beyond the dosage limit that would be fatal (or debilitating) to the patient. Steven Hetts, an interventional radiologist at UC San Francisco, and Nitash Balsara, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, collaborated to find a way to catch those excess drug molecules after they’ve passed through the target area.

Balsara is a chemical engineer who specializes in ionic polymers for batteries and fuel cells. "An absorber is a standard chemical engineering concept," Balsara said. "Absorbers are used in petroleum refining to remove unwanted chemicals such as sulfur. Literally, we've taken the concept out of petroleum refining and applied it to chemotherapy."

A 3D printed cylinder with an internal grid is coated in a drug-absorbing polymer; the cylinder is inserted in a vein downstream of the target area, and the polymer binds with the drug molecules as blood carrying the drug flows through the cylinder, filtering the blood. Balsara elaborates, "Surgeons snake a wire into the bloodstream and place the sponge like a stent, and just leave it in for the amount of time you give chemotherapy, perhaps a few hours.”

3D printing allows for a very customized cylinder that can be sized specifically to a patient’s vein diameter and shape, so 3D printing firm Carbon Inc. was consulted for the device. "Fitting the cylinder in the vein is important; if the fit is poor, then the blood with the dissolved drug will flow past the cylinder without interacting with the absorbent," said Balsara.

The researchers tested their sponge in the vein of a pig where it absorbed 64% of the compound doxorubicin, an antibiotic used as an anticancer drug. That could mean a 64% reduction in side effects or allow for a stronger dose for an especially aggressive tumor. "This is a first level in vivo validation that yes, this device will bind up drug in the bloodstream," Hetts said.

"But extensive animal testing is not the next path; the next path is getting conditional approval from FDA to do first-in-human studies, because it is much more realistic to test these in people who have cancer as opposed to continuing to test in young pigs who have otherwise healthy livers." Thankfully, that may not be too far off, as Hetts continued, "Because it is a temporary device, there is a lower bar in terms of approval by the FDA.”

The project was designed around treating liver cancer, but the 3D printed sponge system could be applied to most tumors that are on organs that present distinct and accessible upstream and downstream channels. "We are developing this around liver cancer because it is a big public health threat—there are tens of thousands of new cases every year—and we already treat liver cancer using intra-arterial chemotherapy," Hetts said. "But if you think about it, you could use this sort of approach for any tumor or any disease that is confined to an organ, and you want to absorb the drug on the venous side before it can distribute and cause side effects elsewhere in the body. Ultimately we would like to use this technology in other organs to treat kidney tumors and brain tumors."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Adam wrote at 1/14/2019 3:29:48 AM:

Those are some of the worst images I have ever seen to be actually published on a website. The second looks like it was created in Microsoft Paint.

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