A group of scientists at Rice University in the United States received $45 million in funding for the development of sense-and-respond implant technology that can reduce cancer deaths by more than 50 percent. The grant, given to a group of scientists led by Rice University and from seven different states, will facilitate the assessment of a novel cancer therapy strategy. With this strategy, the effectiveness of immunotherapy for patients with difficult-to-treat tumors such as ovarian, pancreatic, and other malignancies will be improved.
“Instead of tethering patients to hospital beds, IV bags, and external monitors, we use a minimally invasive method to implant a small device that continuously monitors their cancer and adjusted their immunotherapy dose in real time,” Rice bioengineer Omid Veiseh, the principal investigator (PI) of the ARPA-H cooperative agreement, said in a statement.
When used for cancer immunotherapy, closed-loop therapy—a strategy previously used to manage diabetes—is revolutionary. It involves constant contact between an insulin pump and a glucose monitor.
The team consists of engineers, healthcare professionals, and a wide spectrum of specialists from different sectors, including synthetic biology, materials science, immunology, oncology, electrical engineering, and artificial intelligence. , and so on. THOR, an acronym for “targeted hybrid oncotherapeutic regulation”, is the name of this collaborative initiative and its team. The THOR-developed implant is known as HAMMR, which stands for “hybrid advanced molecular manufacturing regulator”.
“Cancer cells are constantly evolving and adapting to therapy. However, currently available diagnostic tools, including radiologic tests, blood tests, and biopsies, provide less frequent and limited snapshots of this dynamic process,” Dr. Amir Jazaeri, a co-principal investigator and professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a statement.
“As a result, current therapies treat cancer as if it were a static disease. We believe that THOR can change the status quo by providing real-time data from around the tumor that can will also lead to more effective and tumor-informed novel therapies,” he added.
“The technology is widely available for peritoneal cancers that affect the pancreas, liver, lungs, and other organs,” said an associate professor of bioengineering at Rice.