Researchers Work to Knock Out Cancer in Late Stages

Human clinical trial are expected within the next two years

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Ninety percent of cancer deaths are due to late-stage cancer that has metastasized. But a team of researchers believe they have found a way to kill spreading cancer cells and increase survival.

For country singer Wade Hayes, music is his life.

But a few years ago, the music almost stopped when he was suffering from severe abdominal pain and bleeding.

“I had no idea what was happening. I thought I had ingested some glass or something,” said Hayes.

Hayes went to his doctor.

“Sure enough I had a tumor, from what I was told about it, I guess the size of an orange in my large intestine,” Hayes said.

It was stage 4 colon cancer. Surgery got rid of the cancer, but it came back a year later.

“There is mounting evidence that any therapeutic interventions, whether it’s surgery, a needle biopsy, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy causes the release of cancer cells into the bloodstream,” said Dr. Michael King Department Chair and Wilson Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

King and his team have found an approach to stop those cancer cells in their tracks. Using blood samples from metastatic cancer patients, the team injected nanoparticles coated with proteins. These nanoparticles attach to white blood cells and, in the study, the viable cancer cells were cleared out within two hours of the injection.

“We believe that this could benefit patients who are even at a very late stage,” King said.

Like Hayes, who before this study has been cancer-free for over six years. Now he works to promote new research. He believes many more people like him might be able to survive despite grim odds.

The team has also done a test with mice using this approach for triple-negative breast cancer, one of the toughest breast cancers to treat, and found that it was very effective. Their next step is to start a human clinical trial within the next two years.  

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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