Brain cancer patients are left with few options when tumor cells spread, as most potent chemotherapies are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. But a study published last week in the Lancet offers some hope: an ultrasound device implanted in 17 patients’ skulls successfully increased the concentration of drugs in their brains.
It’s the first, in-human trial of the novel device, which is manufactured by French device maker Carthera. The study, led by Northwestern University researchers, also reported no treatment-related deaths or worsening of neurological symptoms. Drug levels increased almost sixfold in the part of the brain activated by the device.
While promising, the study results are not definitive. Carthera will need to prove that its device helps people live longer before it’s available to the masses. And it will need to work with other cancer researchers to decide which drugs work best for brain cancer patients. Many of these more powerful chemotherapies have never made it into the brain before, so it’s unclear how severely they’ll damage healthy brain tissue.
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