Johns Hopkins researchers led by Jean Geschwind, M.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science, are testing a novel method for delivering chemotherapeutic agents directly into liver tumors.
In the study, catheters were inserted into the femoral artery of rabbits, and tiny beads, impregnated with the anticancer drug doxorubicin, were injected into the tumors. Control animals received intra-arterial injections of the drug alone. Plasma and tissue concentrations of doxorubicin were measured at 1, 12 and 24 hours and 3, 7 and 14 days following treatment.
In the animals treated with the doxorubicin-eluting beads, the concentration of doxorubicin within the tumor was greatest in the 7-day group, followed by the 3-day group, and remained high in the 14-day group, suggesting continuous emission of doxorubicin from the beads. In contrast, the plasma concentrations of the drug were low at all time points, indicating high retention of doxorubicin within the tumor and a lessening risk of systemic toxicity.
The greatest degree of tumor destruction was seen in the 7- to 14-day group. In contrast, control animals had markedly high plasma concentrations of the drug and low concentration of the agent in the tumor, which washed out of the tumor within an hour.
Due to its reduced systemic toxicity and greater tumor-killing efficacy, the researchers say the technique offers a potentially effective new approach to treating certain tumors in humans.
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