All too often after tumor resections cancers end up spreading to other parts of the body. Metastasis is not well understood, but researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou and Fudan University in China, have developed and tested a remarkable new gel that seems to prevent it from occurring.
The spray gel is designed to be used following a removal of tumors, applying it to the area following treatment. The gel is infused with calcium carbonate nanoparticles that hold onto an antibody that blocks the activity of the CD47 protein, a molecule cancer cells use to protect themselves from the immune system. Normally, the cancer cells are able to fool the immune system into thinking they’re healthy, but in a pre-clinical study on mice, the gel was able to prevent recurrence of melanoma tumors in half of the animals. Moreover, it worked to reduce the growth of the tumor cells that were left in the body, and the effect had a systemic effect on the entire bodies of the animals, as the tumors didn’t spread to distant places as often as in controls.
The researchers noted that the new gel is capable of helping to organize the immune system so that T cells are activated and work together to hunt down remaining cancer cells that were left following surgery.
There’s a lot more to be done, including clinical studies, before the technology arrives at your local hospital, but it’s certainly promising thanks to impressive results coming out of the lab.