Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, constituting one percent of all cancers but causing the majority of skin cancer deaths. Understandably, researchers are interested in bringing to bear the new technique of using the body’s immune system to attack melanoma cancers. According to Gizmag, the difficulty has been administering the anti-PD-1 antibodies that cause tumors to turn off their resistance to T cells that the body uses to attack viruses, bacteria, and other threats. Hitherto, the antibodies have been injected into the bloodstream, which does not apply them to skin tumors effectively.
A group of researchers at the North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a skin patch, medical device that injects the antibodies directly into the melanoma tumors. The patch has an array of microneedles that are permeated with nanoparticles with the antibodies embedded. Also, an enzyme called glucose oxidase is included.
The patch is applied directly to the melanoma. Blood seeps onto the microneedles, which bring the glucose oxidase into contact with blood glucose, releasing an acid that dissolves the nanoparticles, which in turn release the antibodies. The antibodies shut down the melanoma’s resistance to the immune system, making it vulnerable.
The patch has already been tested on mice. Mice with the patch have shown a 40 percent survival rate with no detectable melanoma over 40 days, as compared to no survivors in the control group. The researchers were able to boost the patch’s effectiveness to a 70 percent survival rate by adding another T cell-boosting antibody to the microneedles. The researchers are seeking funding to start clinical trials shortly.
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