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How to test drugs on tumors while they're still in the body

Posting in Cancer

A new device would allow doctors to inject different drugs into tumors to test how well they’ll work – while the live tumor is still inside the patient’s body.

Being able to test drugs in the body is a huge advantage. Since experimental cancer drugs have low chances of success and could have potentially harmful side effects, it’s important to test them first in tiny amounts. Technology Review reports.

Seattle-based Presage Biosciences is developing the technology, which uses several needles to inject small quantities of drugs -- a fifth of a raindrop -- into a tumor through the skin and into a living tumor.

  1. Similar to a soaker hose, needles thread narrow columns of drug through the tumor.
  2. Once the tumor is removed, it’s sliced into thin sections (pictured) that can be stained for markers of drug activity. From that, doctors can tell which drugs killed the cancerous cells.
  3. The drugs that worked best within the tumor can then be given in larger doses intravenously to fight the cancer throughout the body -- helping doctors tailor treatments to a patient’s cancer.

The researchers are working on a handheld disposable version and recently launched a clinical study of the technology.

Drug companies could also use Presage’s technology to study experimental new treatments. Millennium, for example, is using the technology to test cancer drug combinations on solid tumors in lab animals.

[Via Technology Review]

Image: Presage Biosciences

— By on January 17, 2013, 12:01 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure