The treatment of cancerous tumors can be tricky and dangerous. These cancer cells divide and grow excessively in those affected, with treatment type being dictated by various factors such as the type of tumor, its location, and if the patient can tolerate the procedure. This often means the use of chemo or radiation therapy, which possess a bevy of different side effects that may introduce alternative complications in addition to cancerous cell development. However, for the first time, a new type of tumor treatment method was utilized that could let doctors target the tumor with anticancer drugs that might otherwise damage healthy tissue.
Currently, when it comes to anti-cancer or tumor treatment, there exist a number of different methods that can be used. It will first be required to assess what type of cancer a person has and whether it can effectively be treated with commonly used methods. Most of these methods also kill or slow down the growth of nearby healthy cells, leading to side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, and nausea and vomiting. The following are some of the main cancer treatment therapies currently being utilized:
- Radiation therapy: Uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, with two types currently available—external beam and internal beam. External beam involves the use of a radiation producing machine that aims radiation at the particular part of the body where the cancer is located. Internal beam is where the source of the radiation is put inside the body, which is either solid or liquid.
- Chemotherapy: Uses drugs to kill cancer cells or slow down their growth. This is a very common type of cancer treatment and often the only type received. There are several types of anti-cancer drugs, and what you receive will depend on the type of cancer being treated.
- Surgery: Involves a surgeon removing cancer directly from the body and works best with solid tumors that are contained in one area. This form of treatment may need to be combined with other methods of cancer treatment.
Researchers at Washington State University have demonstrated a way to deliver a drug to a tumor by attaching it to a blood cell. The researchers worked with nanotherapeutic particles so small that 1,000 of them would fit across the width of a hair. What they did was attach these tiny particles to infection-fighting white blood cells, essentially piggybacking antitumor drugs so they could get past the protection of blood vessels that typically shield a tumor with great success. This was further complimented in tumor-implanted mice studies who were injected with gold nanoparticles treated with antibodies that, when exposed to infrared light, produced heat that killed the tumor cells.
“We have developed a new approach to delivering therapeutics into tumors using the white blood cells of our body. This will be applied to deliver many anticancer drugs, such as doxorubicin, and we hope that it could increase the efficacy of cancer therapies compared to other delivery systems,” said Zhenjia Wang, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences who led the study.