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Image-guided 'nanoembolization' can deliver cancer-killing agent directly to pancreatic tumor

-- Jeff Muise

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 (Last Updated: 03/17/2010)

TUESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer that involves injecting the tumor with gold nanoparticles coated with a cancer-killing agent was described by researchers at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, held from March 13 to 18 in Tampa, Fla.

Reed A. Omary, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues created gold particles 13 nanometers in diameter (a row of 8,000 particles is shorter than the width of a human hair). Then, in an animal experiment, the researchers employed a technique they called image-guided "nanoembolization," in which a catheter is inserted into an artery near the groin and threaded through blood vessels to the pancreas. The nanoparticles bearing the therapeutic agent are then injected directly into the tumor, breaching the scar tissue that can be a barrier to treatment by intravenous injection.

The researchers said the nanoembolization technique resulted in a 55-fold increase in the concentration of the nanoparticles in the tumor compared to venous delivery. The researchers also said the technique may avoid some of the side effects of chemotherapy, such as vomiting and hair loss. The researchers note that more studies are needed to show safety and effectiveness before the new treatment is ready for human patients.

"Nanoembolization is a terrific example of bringing together a diverse range of experts -- in interventional radiology, chemistry and oncology -- to develop a radically different method to treat the cancer with the most dismal survival rate," Omary said in a statement.

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Specialties Radiology
OBGYN & Women's Health

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