Researchers of Rice University Going to Create an Implant That Can Cure Cancer in Just 60 Days

A team of scientists from Rice University in the United States recently received $45 million in funding for developing implant technology. This new implant promises to reduce cancer-related deaths by more than 50 percent. 

This grant has been awarded to a diverse group of researchers led by Rice University and comprising experts from seven states. Their mission is to accelerate the development and evaluation of cancer therapy. This new strategy aims to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy. It is mainly for patients battling hard-to-treat tumours such as ovarian and pancreatic.

A prototype of an implant that a Rice-led team is developing to treat ovarian, pancreatic and other difficult-to-treat cancers. The “closed-loop” implant will be able to continuously monitor a patient’s cancer and adjust their immunotherapy dose in real time. (Photo by Brandon Martin/Rice University)

“Instead of tethering patients to hospital beds, IV bags, and external monitors, we’ll use a minimally invasive procedure to implant a small device that continuously monitors their cancer and adjusts their immunotherapy dose in real-time.”

Rice bioengineer Omid Veiseh, the principal investigator (PI) on the ARPA-H cooperative agreement, explained their approach.

Using Closed-Loop Therapy

Closed-loop therapy is a type of medical treatment that uses sensor feedback to adjust the treatment parameters automatically. This allows for more precise and personalized care. And treatment can tailored to the patient’s needs.
A thermostat is a simple example of a closed-loop system. It senses the temperature of a room and adjusts the thermostat accordingly to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Closed-loop therapy works similarly. Sensors monitor the patient’s condition. A computer or other device uses this information to adjust the treatment. For example, a closed-loop insulin delivery system would monitor the patient’s blood sugar levels and deliver insulin as needed.
Closed-loop therapy has the potential to revolutionize the way that many medical conditions are treated. Providing more precise and personalized care can improve patient outcomes.

The Team

The team spearheading this comprises diverse experts from various fields. It includes synthetic biology, materials science, immunology, oncology, electrical engineering, and artificial intelligence. Their collaborative initiative, “THOR” (targeted hybrid oncotherapeutic regulation). Their product is the HAMMR implant, a “hybrid advanced molecular manufacturing regulator.”

Real-Time Data for More Effective Cancer Therapies

“Cancer cells are continually evolving and adapting to therapy. However, currently available diagnostic tools, including radiologic tests, blood assays, and biopsies, provide very infrequent and limited snapshots of this dynamic process.” He added, “We believe THOR could transform the status quo by providing real-time data from the tumor environment that can in turn guide more effective and tumor informed novel therapies.”

Dr. Amir Jazaeri, a co-principal investigator and professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, emphasized the need for real-time data.

An associate professor of bioengineering at Rice highlighted the broad applicability of this technology, stating, “The technology is broadly applicable for peritoneal cancers that affect the pancreas, liver, lungs, and other organs.”

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