'Chemo gel' could provide therapy and cosmetic reconstruction claim researchers

In collaboration with the Press Association

US researchers have made the first steps toward the development of an artificial tissue replacement that could one day be used for both therapy and cosmetic reconstruction following breast cancer surgery.

Breast cancer patients occasionally need reconstructive surgery after treatment in addition to follow-up radiation therapy, and this can extend the amount of medical care required.

Successful testing on mice has now suggested that, theoretically, radiation treatment could be combined with a new tissue replacement that contains chemotherapy drugs, reducing the need for further surgery.

Working with a mouse model of breast cancer, researchers mixed a common chemotherapy drug, doxyrubicin, with a polymer gel, and inserted the implant next to the tumours.

30 days later, they found that they had successfully eradicated all the tumours compared to a control group who had gel implants that contained no doxyrubicin.

"Although radiation therapy is the standard treatment for breast cancer following surgery, it is expensive [and] time consuming," said lead researcher professor Howard Edington.

"We sought to develop a possible alternative to radiation therapy that would not only release chemotherapy slowly to kill the cancerous cells left behind after surgery but that also would fill in the dimples and sometimes quite significant indentations that are common after breast surgery and radiation."

The research was conducted by the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in collaboration with bioengineers at Carnegie Mellon University.

"Through further research and testing, our goal is to develop this into a clinical treatment for women undergoing breast cancer surgery," said Dr Edington.

"This treatment may help decrease the occurrences of breast deformity. With more studies under our belt, we believe this approach could eventually represent an alternative to breast radiation after surgery," he added.

The results were presented at the World Congress on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh, USA, and will be published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

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