Magazine article USA TODAY

Implantable Device for Advance Testing

Magazine article USA TODAY

Implantable Device for Advance Testing

Article excerpt

More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer, but predicting which ones will help a particular patient is an inexact science at best. A device developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, may change that.

Implantable, and about the size of a grain of rice, it can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs. After implanting it in a tumor and letting the drugs diffuse into the tissue, researchers can measure how effectively each one kills the patient's cancer cells. Such a technique could eliminate much of the guesswork now involved in choosing cancer treatments, says Oliver Jonas, a postdoctoral student at MIT's Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and lead author of a paper describing the device in Science Translational Medicine.

Most of the commonly used cancer drugs work by damaging DNA or otherwise interfering with cell function. Recently, scientists have developed more-targeted drugs designed to kill tumor cells that carry a specific genetic mutation. However, it usually is difficult to predict whether a particular drug will be effective in an individual patient.

In some cases, doctors extract tumor cells, grow them in a lab dish, and treat them with different drugs to see which ones are most effective. …

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