Tumor Destruction Method Can Also Create Immunity
Even when surgical tumor removal is combined with a heavy dose of chemotherapy or radiation, there is no guarantee against cancer recurrence. Recent research by Tel Aviv University scientists are improving the odds of permanent tumor destruction – along with immunity to the cancer’s recurrence – through a new method of tumor removal.
Based on the idea of “tumor ablation,” a process where the tumor is destroyed inside the body, researchers have developed a radioactive wire, less than an inch long and about the width of a pin. When the wire is inserted into a solid tumor, the wire releases lethal radioactive atoms that irradiate the tumor from the inside out.
The research team was led by Prof. Yona Keisari and Prof. Itzhak Kelson of Tel Aviv University and the study was published in Translational Research. According to Prof. Keisari, as the tumor breaks down, it releases antigens which trigger an immune response against the cancerous cells. Not only are the cancerous cells more reliably destroyed, but in the majority of cases, the body develops immunity against the recurrence of cancer. This occurrence is rare when the tumor is removed through surgical means.
Currently, cancer patients receive gamma radiation when they are treated with radiation therapy. Although alpha particles are much more effective, their range is so short that they cannot penetrate the skin, and are unable to find efficacy in traditional radiation treatments. The new radioactive wire circumvents the drawbacks of alpha radiation by implanting the radioactive ions directly into the tumor. The process takes approximately ten days, leaving only non-radioactive and non-toxic amounts of lead. The wire itself, which is initially inserted into the tumor by hypodermic needle, is eventually absorbed harmlessly into the body.
In pre-clinical trials on mouse models, the ablation method has shown distinct benefits over surgical tumor removal. One group of mice was treated with the traditional surgical removal, while another group underwent ablation treatment using the radioactive wire. When cells from the tumor were re-injected into the subject, 100 percent of those treated surgically saw tumor recurrence. This is compared to only 50 percent of those treated with the radioactive wire. The researchers have seen positive results with many cancer models, including lung, pancreatic, colon, breast, and brain tumors.
Ultimately, this study demonstrates that ablation tumor removal increases immunity against cancer recurrence. Prof. Keisari, states, “Surgery can eliminate 80 to 90 percent of a tumor, chemotherapy another 5-15 percent. There are often a small number of metastatic cells left in the body, and they kill about 85% of the patients.”
Ablation methods, through the stimulation of specific anti-tumor immunity, have a better record for eliminating the remaining the cancer cells that escape other forms of treatment. This method is also less invasive, more efficient, and more cost efficient.