Biomedical engineering scientists at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have observed the effects of microneedle technology in the assistance of immunotherapy for melanomas on human bodies. Dermatologists’ ears should perk up at the new findings because it directly affects their practices. The new findings could mean more efficient methods of ridding a person of skin cancer in the future – perhaps even circumnavigating the need for cutting out melanomas.
According to HNGN, current cancer immunotherapy researchers have investigated using anti-PD-1 antibiotics to prevent cancer cells from “binding a receptor on T cells”. This process eventually leads to the body confusing healthy cells with cancerous cells, and thereby the cancer is more difficult to battle.
However, the process of introducing anti-PD-1 is what the researchers over at NC State are interested in. Chao Wang, a co-author of the new study says, “First, the anti-PD-1 antibodies are usually injected into the bloodstream, so they cannot target the tumor site effectively. Second, the overdose of antibodies can cause side effects such as an autoimmune disease.
As a result, the team created a patch of needles that had tiny microneedles made from hyaluronic acid. This would deliver the antibodies to the skin tumor directly. “It is an efficient approach to enhanced retention of anti-PD-1 antibodies in the tumor microenvironment,” Zeng Gu, an assistant professor at NC State said.
An animal test was set up to hopefully gain some insight into how this would eventually be used on humans. After the tests were completed, Yanqi Ye, a Ph.D. student at NC State, said: “After 40 days, 40 percent of the mice who were treated using the microneedle patch survived and had no detectable remaining melanoma – compared to a zero percent survival rate for the control groups.”