Scientists Have Created a Chemo Sponge to Make Treatment Less Toxic

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that saves lives, but most of the drugs used for treatment are poisonous. Scientists believe to have found a way to make chemotherapy less toxic to the body which would help reduce the adverse side effects or allow higher dose delivery to knock back tumours: sponges. This device was created by researchers from the University of California, Berkley and San Francisco.

The personalised absorber is placed in the vein before a chemo session to absorb the excess drugs during chemotherapy therefore lowering potential risks of toxic agents and major side effects such as: nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, suppression of the immune system and hair loss and ulcers.

The tubular device is 3D printed so that it is tailor made to fit precisely into the patients veins that carry the blood flowing out of the target organ.

Test revealed that the sponge mopped up a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin and removed about 64% of the drug from the bloodstream appearing to keep hold of the drug permanently. After chemotherapy, the sponge is removed.

In a news release, researcher Steven Hetts said “You could use this sort of approach for any tumour or any disease that is confined to an organ, and you want to absorb the drug on the venous side before it can distribute and cause side effects elsewhere in the body. Ultimately, we would like to use this technology in other organs to treat kidney tumours and brain tumours.”

More research needs to be done to ensure that this technique is safe enough to be used as an effective approach for cancer patients.

The early results are said to be promising and although researchers have only tested the sponge on the pigs’ liver, they believe that it could have widespread applications. They are confident that their absorber is likely to perform better than other chemotherapy-filtering methods already on trial.