Cancer treatment without any costly surgeries
As time is progressing, we are finding new options to treat cancer. Some of these are extremely out of the box and very creative, for example, trying to use a surgically implantable structure to train immune cells to target cancer, two Gamma Knife brain surgeries, etc. However, these methods involve complex surgeries that most of the common people cannot afford. Scientists are now trying to find ways to treat cancer without any costly surgeries.
Motivated by the same, Sidi Bencherif and his colleagues announced a breakthrough technology: the first sponge-like gel that can be compressed and injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle. Once injected, these materials, known as cryogels, swell back to their original size and dimensions, allowing them to hold cells or treatments.
Cryogels are made by binding polymers together at freezing temperatures, so that they form structures laced with ice crystals. When the polymers are thawed, the ice melts, leaving a network of pores through the cryogel. When the cryogel is squeezed through a needle, these pores collapse; the gel can compress down to 90 percent of its original size. Once it is out of the needle, it draws in the surrounding fluid to expand back to its original volume, like sponge absorbing water. Bencherif is using cryogels as environments to activate or inhibit immune cells, which could help cells target diseases like blood cancer or keep them from attacking healthy cells in individuals with autoimmune diseases.
In an interview with Northeastern University, he said,
“I’m hoping this technology will be taken into clinical trials. I really want this technology to be translated for human health and benefits. Right now, the orientation of the ice crystals is quite uncontrolled, because it doesn’t matter for what we are doing. However, for some applications, you may want to have a more sophisticated structure —3D printing could be used for that.”