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A new spray could fight cancer recurrence after tumor removals

By Tauren Dyson
A new spray could fight cancer recurrence after tumor removals
Researchers have developed a sprayable gel that could help prevent the regrowth of cancer, based on early results in tests with mice. Photo by Juan Gaertner/Shutterstock

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A new immune-boosting spray could stop recurrence of cancer in patients, a study says.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, detailed how researchers sprayed the surgical sites of mice with advanced melanoma tumors with calcium carbonate.

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The gel decreased the growth of the tumor cells following surgery, and the mice survived at least 60 days without their tumors regrowing, researchers report.

"This sprayable gel shows promise against one of the greatest obstacles in curing cancer," Zhen Gu, a professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and study author, said in a news statement.

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"One of the trademarks of cancers is that it spreads. In fact, around 90 percent of people with cancerous tumors end up dying because of tumor recurrence or metastasis. Being able to develop something that helps lower this risk for this to occur and has low toxicity is especially gratifying," Gu said.

The spray is made of calcium carbonate, which makes up eggshells and if found in rocks, blocked the CD47 protein in cancer that sends out signals that ward off the body's immune system.

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According to the researchers, calcium carbonate can gradually dissolve in surgical wound sites and activate certain types of macrophage, which help push foreign objects out of the body.

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Now, the team wants to put the spray through more trials and hopefully get it approved for use on humans. Ultimately, the researchers want to see the spray used on surgical sites by surgeons right after a tumor removal.

"We also learned that the gel could activate T cells in the immune system to get them to work together as another line of attack against lingering cancer cells," said Qian Chen, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

The researchers plan to keep testing the gel with animals to find an optimal dose and best mix for the gel before mounting tests in humans.

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