Scientists have developed a novel 3D-printed device that may reduce the side effects of chemotherapy such as hair loss, nausea and heart failure. The device, described in the journal in ACS Central Science, absorbs excess chemotherapy drugs before they spread throughout the body.
Doxorubicin, like many chemotherapy drugs, kills more tumour cells when given at higher doses, said researchers, including those from the University of California, Berkeley in the US.
However, most patients cannot tolerate large amounts of the drug because it can cause heart failure, among other side effects.
The researchers wondered if they could make a device that would filter out doxorubicin from blood at locations outside of the tumour to reduce the likelihood that the drug would harm healthy cells.
They used a 3D printer to fabricate tiny cylinders made of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate.
Inside the cylinders was a square lattice structure that would allow blood cells to pass through it, with a copolymer coating that binds to doxorubicin.
The researchers tested these absorbers in pigs, inserting them into a vein.
When they injected doxorubicin into the same vein, the drug flowed in the bloodstream to the device.
By measuring the doxorubicin concentration in the vein at a location after the absorber, the researchers determined that it captured about 64 per cent of the drug from the bloodstream.
The device could open a new route to help patients fight cancer, enabling reduced side effects or an increased chemotherapy dose, the researchers said.