LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – An estimated 20,000 women will be told they have ovarian cancer this year and nearly 13,000 will die from it.
It’s a difficult cancer to treat. But researchers are optimistic something called drug factories will not only kill ovarian cancer, but also transform the way we think about treating other diseases.
“I was losing a lot of weight. My stomach was not getting any smaller. It was hurting a lot,” Gilda Michel recalled. “I had tumors in my ovaries.”
Even with chemo, radiation and surgery, for people like Michel — diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer — there’s a 50/50 chance they will they will survive it. Researchers at Rice University are trying out a new implantable approach.
“Have this implant actually be loaded with engineered cells that would secrete a biologic that would activate the immune system,” said Omid Veiseh.
Bioengineers implanted drug factories — the size of a pinhead — to deliver continuous, high-doses of interleukin-2, a natural compound that activates white blood cells to fight cancer. Preliminary studies in mice suggest the treatment works.
Tumors were eliminated in 100% of the animals with ovarian cancer, and when mice were injected a second time with cells from the same cancerous tumor, they were protected against it.
It gives survivors — like Michel — hope they will beat the deadly disease.
More: Health stories
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