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USask researchers discover possible new treatment for brain cancer

Click to play video: 'Researchers develop new brain cancer chemotherapy that doesn’t kill healthy cells'
Researchers develop new brain cancer chemotherapy that doesn’t kill healthy cells
WATCH: Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan have developed a new method of killing brain cancer cells that doesn't kill the healthy cells surrounding them. Emily-May Simmonds shares their findings – Nov 26, 2022

Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan have discovered new chemotherapy that allows a drug to be delivered directly to the tumour.

Dr. Mike Moser set out to develop a new method of killing brain cancer cells, while preserving the tissue around it.

“But the results that we found was when we used an IRE-like machine on cells, the brain cancer cells were a lot more sensitive to the IRE than the normal cells we tested it on,” says Dr. Moser, USask associate professor of surgery. “We want to destroy all the tumour cells. We want to do that really well. But at the same time, we want to minimize the amount of injury to the other cells and so that was a really useful finding,” says Moser.

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IRE is a technique involving long needles placed through the skull while sending pulses of electrical current into a glioblastoma tumour.

“Because it’s so brief, it’s really, really safe, and that allows us to use it just about anywhere in the body,” says Moser.

Dr. Moser thinks these findings will help avoid opening people up to treat them.

“And we’re hoping for the same thing in the brain, that this can be accessed with just a few little holes, and without having to open up the skull, just like we avoid opening up the abdomen most of the time when we use IRE,” says Moser.

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Another doctor on the research team says this is a great discovery for them.

“This is a very promising technique for us,” says Dr. Zhang, USask professor of engineering.

The team’s next step is to develop a combined method of tumour removal and immunotherapy.

“We’ve been amazed, at least in the lab so far, at how much of an immune response you can generate when you’re using the IRE in combination with these immune boosting drugs. So all kinds of possibilities for using IRE in combination with something else,” says Moser.

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