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Brain Cancer Treatment: Experimental gel achieves 100% success rate in mice

Johns Hopkins University researchers claim their gel-based brain cancer treatment may be highly effective.

This week, researchers reported that the gel, when used in conjunction with surgery, completely eradicated glioblastoma tumors in mice. More study and safety testing are needed before this technique may be considered for use on humans.

Gel Increases Glioblastoma Immunity

In order to fill the microscopic craters left behind when a brain tumor is surgically removed, Cui’s team mixed an anticancer medicine with an antibody in a solution that self-assembles into a gel. 

In order to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent further tumor growth, the gel can go to places where surgery might miss and where existing medications have trouble penetrating. Today’s (April 24) issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences features the findings.

The gel also appears to stimulate an immunological response that mice have trouble activating on their own when confronting glioblastoma. The immune systems of the mice that survived being re-challenged with a glioblastoma tumor were sufficient to eradicate the disease on their own, without the need for any extra treatment. 

Scientists believe the gel does more than only prevent cancer from spreading; it also helps retrain the immune system to forget previous cancer encounters. Researchers emphasized that surgery is still necessary for this method. Those who had the gel applied to their brains without first having the tumor removed surgically had a 50% chance of survival.

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Glioblastoma Treatment

Johns Hopkins University researchers claim their gel-based brain cancer treatment may be highly effective.


The gel solution contains FDA-approved paclitaxel nanofilaments for breast, lung, and other cancers. Filaments carry a CD47 antibody. The gel fills the tumor cavity uniformly, slowly releasing its contents over weeks while retaining its active ingredients at the injection site.

That antibody is helping researchers overcome glioblastoma’s biggest hurdle. This medication destroys macrophages, which help immunity and protect cancer cells, to slow the cancer’s growth.

Researchers believe it’s challenging to inject anticancer medications and antibodies simultaneously due to the molecular nature of the substances, but the novel gel offers hope for future glioblastoma treatment by integrating the two.

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