Cancer Therapy 2.0

Cancer tumors could be monitored with implanted microchip sensor

(RxWiki News) While surgery is usually the first stop along the cancer journey, not all tumors need to be removed. Others are located in delicate, hard-to-reach spots. Technology may offer new solutions in these cases.

Operating on some brain tumors risks damaging surrounding tissue. Others, such as prostate cancer tumors, grow so slowly that surgery isn't immediately required. Surgeries in such cases could severely limit a patient's quality of life without measurably extending life.

Medical engineers have developed a microchip sensor that can be implanted close to such tumors to monitor them until surgery or chemotherapy is required.

"Implantable microchips may soon treat cancer tumors."

Professor Bernhard Wolf and his team at the TUM Heinz Nixdorf Chair of Medica have designed a chip about the size of two thumbnails that can be located close to a tumor. The chip monitors, measures and wirelessly transmits key information about the tumor to the patient's doctor. So there would be no need for doctor or hospital visits.

The technology, still in development stages, needs to find ways for the sensor to operate over long periods of time, while operating in such a way that the body doesn't see it as a foreign object that needs to be attacked.

Currently, the package contains the sensor chip, electronics to analyze data and batteries in "biocompatible plastic housing," explains project manager and engineer, Sven Becker.

Other refinements will include decreasing its size, adding other sensors to measure acidity and temperature and potentially include a miniature pump that could administer chemotherapy drugs close to the tumor itself.

Researchers hope this new technology will improve cancer therapies that are more targeted and less toxic for patients.

This reseach is being funded by the Heinz Nixdorf Stiftung Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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Review Date: 
August 28, 2011