UCI Team Develops Non-Invasive Bone Cancer Treatment Using Stem Cells
Pharmaceutical researchers at UC Irvine have discovered a new, non-invasive way to kill bone cancer using stem cells in mice.
Postdoctoral scholar at UCI, Aude Segaliny, says that the treatment utilizes stem cells collected from bone marrow and modified to have targeting agents that bring the cells to metastatic sites, or tumors that form when cancer spreads, where they provide therapeutic benefits.
The result? Healthy tissues and bones are preserved.
Lead author and associate professor of biomedical engineering and pharmaceutical sciences, Weian Zhao, mentions that the strategy allowed for delivery of anti-bone and anti-tumor resorption agents, which could effectively put a stop to the vicious circle between bone and the cancer niche. Furthermore, the professor says that the therapy is safe and non-toxic compared to traditional chemotherapy, which gives patients tremendous and often permanent side effects.
The research involved testing on breast cancer and bone metastates, which usually occur as the condition worsens.
UCI pharmaceutical sciences graduate student Henry Farhoodi says that metastates appear almost undetectable when they first form, making them very difficult to treat. The study holds a promise of being able to find the metastates even while in the early stages and when it can’t be found by modern equipment.
Segaliny declares that the goal of the project was to develop specialized treatments for cancer. She mentioned that most disseminated drugs won’t target bones even on high dosages. Chemotherapy is said to bring more problems, and that patients die from its side effects more than the cancer they have. The professor likened their treatment to a chemotherapeutic drug used for treating breast cancer. Moreover, Farhoodi adds that the cells can be more powerful than drug treatments.
He demonstrates that drugs are made to do only one thing, while cells can be engineered to do a lot of things simultaneously. Segaliny mentions that the group used smart therapeutic vectors that are better than current chemotherapies due to improved targeting and less systemic toxicity.
Segaliny states that the research is proceeding to the final stages of FDA approval. Mesenchymal stem cells that could differentiate into fat, bones, cartilage or skeletal tissue may be available a few years from now. It’s the biggest obstacle that keeps the treatment from proceeding to bedside care.
In the U.S., stem cell research is largely contentious due to its ties with fetal tissue use and the debate about abortion. Earlier this year, the government announced that their scientists would be ending fetal tissue medical research while allowing universities to continue but at closer scrutiny. Privately-funded research is unaffected.
Embryonic stem cells have a remarkable ability to turn or ‘differentiate’ into several cell types and are easier to cultivate as well.
Segaliny reports that umbilical cords are being used as mediums for stem cells, more particularly MSCs, or mesenchymal stem cells. In an interview, she mentioned that combined therapy is important in treating cancer. One approach will be inefficient, and stem cell therapy can be a tool that can reduce side effects and bring a higher quality of life to patients suffering from cancer.
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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