May 18, 2009
Device continuously monitors cancer growth
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology team says it has created the first implantable device that can continuously monitor cancer growth.
Surgical removal of a tissue sample, a procedure known as a biopsy, is now the standard for diagnosing cancer. But biopsies only offer a snapshot of the tumor at a single moment in time.
MIT Professor Michael Cima led the team in developing the device that can monitor a tumor for weeks or months after the biopsy.
The scientists said the implants could one day provide up-to-the-minute information about what a tumor is doing -- whether it is growing or shrinking, how it's responding to treatment and whether it has metastasized or is about to do so.
What this does is basically take the lab and put it in the patient, said Cima, who conducted the experiments using a mouse model.
He said the devices, which could be implanted at the time of biopsy, could also be tailored to monitor chemotherapy agents, allowing doctors to determine whether cancer drugs are reaching the tumors.
This is one of the tools we're going to need if we're going to turn cancer from a death sentence to a manageable disease, Cima said.
The work was described in a paper published online last month in the journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics.