Despite improvements in surgical techniques over the past decade, surgeons are still unable to prevent the minute amount of cancer cells sometimes left after tumorous tissue is removed during surgery from causing the tumors to regrow. However, Outlook India reports that a team of scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles have developed a new spray gel that is designed specifically to help the body’s immune system better target and even kill cancer cells that remain after surgery.
The researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) state that those diagnosed with cancer will likely undergo some type of surgery to treat their disease, as it is often the first line of treatment for patients suffering from brain tumors, and sometimes early diagnosed breast cancer. But as long as even just a few of the cancer cells remain in the body, the tumors often times grow back. That’s where this spray gel comes in, as it can be administered during surgery, and may help to stop tumors from recurring.
A postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory remarked that the gel can also activate T cells in the immune system to “get them to work together as another line of attack against lingering cancer cells.” A professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, professor Zhen Gu, spoke out about the spray gel and cancer cells as well. He stated that when the biodegradable gel was tested in the laboratory with mice that had advanced melanoma tumors surgically removed, the research found that the gel reduced the growth of tumor cells that remained after surgery. This helped to prevent recurrences of the cancer in the studied mice.
“One of the trademarks of cancers is that it spreads. In fact, around 90 per cent of people with cancerous tumors end up dying because of tumor recurrence or metastasis.”
The spray inhibited the recurrence of tumors from the area on the body where it was removed, but also controlled the development of tumors in other parts of the body, according to Dr. Zhen Gu.
So how does this new cancer fighting spray gel work? According to Chen, the postdoctoral student, after the solution is sprayed on the surgical site, it forms a gel embedded with nanoparticles. This gel helps to promote wound healing while the nanoparticles gradually dissolve to release anti-CD47 antibodies which help the body fight cancer cells.