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Chemotherapy Gel May Fight Breast Cancer and Reduce Breast Deformity

Armen Hareyan's picture

Breast cancer and chemotherapy gel

Women who undergo surgery for breast cancer followed by radiationtherapy often experience breast deformities that can only be correctedthrough reconstructive surgery. Researchers at the McGowan Institutefor Regenerative Medicine, in collaboration with bioengineers atCarnegie Mellon University, have developed a polymer-based therapy forbreast cancer that could serve as an artificial tissue filler aftersurgery and a clinically effective therapy. Their findings, based onstudies with mice, will be presented at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, April 25at the World Congress on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine,April 24 to 27, at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

"Although radiation therapy is the standard treatment for breastcancer following surgery, it is expensive, time consuming and increasesthe cosmetic deformity caused by surgery," said Howard D. Edington,M.D., associate professor of surgery and surgical oncology at theUniversity of Pittsburgh and faculty member at McGowan. "We sought todevelop a possible alternative to radiation therapy that would not onlyrelease chemotherapy slowly to kill the cancerous cells left behindafter surgery but that also would fill in the dimples and sometimesquite significant indentations that are common after breast surgery andradiation."

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To test their idea, the researchers encapsulated a commonbreast cancer chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, in microspheres, orbeads, and then mixed them with a gelatin made of a polymer substance.Mice with breast cancer tumors were treated by inserting the gel underthe skin next to the mammary gland. The researchers found that theycould successfully control the delivery of chemotherapy over a periodof 30 days and that the tumors were completely eradicated compared to acontrol group of mice that were implanted with the gel insert withoutchemotherapy.

"Through further research and testing, our goal is to developthis into a clinical treatment for women undergoing breast cancersurgery," said Dr. Edington who also is chief of surgery atMagee-Womens Hospital. "This treatment may help decrease theoccurrences of breast deformity. With more studies under our belt, webelieve this approach could eventually represent an alternative tobreast radiation after surgery."

According to Dr. Edington, clinical trials on women with breastcancer will follow additional laboratory studies. A paper detailingthese results will be published in the Journal of Biomedical MaterialsResearch.