One of the reasons that cancer can be so deadly is that it tends to spread, sometimes before any symptoms begin to manifest. The New Scientist reports that a group of researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has developed what is, in effect, an early warning system for cancer. The system comes in the form of an implant that is placed under the skin. The implant has worked well in mouse studies, so human trials should be started shortly.
The implant is made of a porous material that common medical devices are made of. The implant is filled with a signaling molecule called CCL22. The CCL22 attracts immune cells, which in turn capture cancer cells as they travel through the body.
The cancer cells trapped in the implant would be detected using an optical coherence tomography device in a doctor’s office, though in the fullness of time a person could use a smartphone at home to scan the implant.
If cancer cells are detected, the doctor removes the implant and analyzes the cancer cells in a lab. Bases on the lab tests, a drug therapy can be devised that is personalized for the patient and the type of cancer he or she has.
If the device can be made to work in humans, it could be a game changer. It would be used for people at high risk for cancer, say those with a family history or people who have already had cancer but are in danger of remission.
For more information contact us.