Chemotherapy has long been a treatment for cancer, but it’s also well-known that it’s difficult to deliver precisely the right levels of drugs to patients consistently.
The challenge for doctors is that they can’t see how the chemotherapy drugs are being delivered within the body. Provide too high a concentration to patients and you risk killing off healthy cells and tissue. Provide too low a concentration to patients and this could simply stun rather than kill the cancer cells, allowing them to come back, in many cases stronger.
But Nano Magazine recently reported on a breakthrough that could help doctors keep patients’ chemotherapy treatments within the optimum level.
Using a process based on magnetic particle imaging (MPI), Bryan Smith, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan State University, has found a non-invasive way for doctors to see how the drug is released in the body and make sure it’s going to the site of the tumour.
The process that’s been created uses superparamagnetic nanoparticles to provide a signal source for the drug delivery. It’s also a contrast agent, which allows doctors to visualise where drug delivery is taking place.
Mr Smith explained that this technique could allow doctors to adjust the level of drugs being administered in real-time. “That way, they could precisely ensure each patient remains within the therapeutic window,” he asserted.
Earlier this month, researchers at the University of Birmingham found that an anti-malarial drug could make chemotherapy treatments more effective.
Quinacrine has been found to be particularly effective in improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy delivered to those suffering from head and neck cancer.
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