A New More Effective Cancer Treatment

White Blood Cells Attacking Cancer

When paired with total-body irradiation, their new treatment system is more effective than conventional chemotherapy on early-stage lymph node metastasis

A Tohuku University research team has created a more effective lymphatic cancer treatment. 

Lymph node metastasis is a sign that things are going from bad to worse in cancer patients, and prompt treatment is vital.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at Tohoku University has created a lymphatic drug delivery system (LDDS) that allows anticancer drugs to be injected directly into metastatic lymph nodes. The new LDDS has a better antitumor effect than conventional chemotherapy on early-stage lymph node metastasis when paired with total-body irradiation (TBI).

TBI provides a uniform radiation dosage to the whole body, penetrating places where conventional chemotherapy cannot. TBI has recently demonstrated success in triggering immune responses and changing the tumor microenvironment. LDDS, on the other hand, is mostly used locally to treat metastatic lymph nodes.

Cancer Research Graph

A graph of the research results. Credit: Tohoku University

The researchers wanted to broaden the use of LDDS to prevent distant metastases, which occur when cancer spreads from the primary tumor to a distant lymph node. Graduate student Shota Sora, a member of the study team led by Professor Tetsuya Kodama, stated “We knew a combination of treatment that enhances systemic tumor immune effects would be an important therapeutic strategy.”

Sora and his colleagues investigated the dual therapy of LDDS and TBI for lymph nodes and distant metastases in metastasis model mice. They used irradiation gamma rays (a one-time dose of 1.0 GY) and anticancer drug CDDP adjusted with a solvent to have an osmotic pressure of 1987 kPa and a viscosity of 11.3 mPas.

An in vivo bioluminescence imaging system, a high-frequency ultrasound system, and histology showed the new therapy was more effective than employing LDDS or TBI alone. After the therapy, the expression of immune-response-related genes (CD4, CD8, and IL-12b) increased in the spleen, indicating an activated immune response.

“With the results showing that both TBI and LDDS improve the efficacy of LB metastasis and distant metastases therapy, this novel approach is a promising way to treat cancer patients,” added Sora.

Reference: “Combination therapy of lymphatic drug delivery and total body irradiation in a metastatic lymph node and lung mouse model” by Shota Sora, Ariunbuyan Sukhbaatar, Shinichi Fukushige, Shiro Mori, Maya Sakamoto and Tetsuya Kodama, 3 September 2022, Cancer Science
DOI: 10.1111/cas.15562

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