Studies Show Dermatologists will Soon have Another Form of Skin Cancer Treatment
Studies Show Dermatologists will Soon have Another Form of Skin Cancer Treatment
February 5, 2021 by eMedEvents

Yale researchers are developing a new skin cancer treatment, that could serve as a potential alternative to surgery. The procedure involves injecting nanoparticles into the tumor, killing cancer cells with a two-pronged approach. Dr. Michael Girardi, professor, and Vice Chair of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, says that this newly developed treatment can be the “holy grail” of dermatology and that “for a lot of dermatologists, treating skin cancer is much more involved than it would be if there was a way to effectively treat them with a simple procedure like an injection”.1

The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Dermatologists mainly credit the treatment’s success to the polymer-based nanoparticles, carrying chemotherapy agents that are injected into the tumors. The nanoparticles are said to be bio-adhesive, meaning that they bind to the tumors and remain attached long enough to kill a significant number of the cancer cells.

 Mark Saltzman, the Goizueta Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and professor of physiology, and one of the authors of this study commented on the new developments in the dermatology and medical community saying "when you inject the nanoparticles into a tumor, it turns out that they're retained within that tumor very well. They accumulate and bind to the tumor matrix, so one single injection lasts for an exceptionally long time -- the particles stay there and slowly release the compounds. You need that to get rid of the lesion."2                                                             

In a separate experiment the same drug was injected freely into tumors of control models without the nanoparticles. By comparison dermatologists found that the tumors were significantly more diminished when the drugs were delivered by nanoparticles, seemingly proving the treatment results to be effective against cancer.

The immune system during this treatment, can also be combined with an agent that stimulates the body's response. Dermatologists explain that patients should not want to just kill the cells and leave them there, you want to stimulate the immune system to clean up the mess and also react against cells that might not have been killed directly. In other words, the cancer is receiving a two-pronged attack.

An injection-based therapy would also mean that dermatologists can also treat multiple tumors a patient has in a single visit.

"In these studies, we did just a single injection, and that's how we'd like it to work clinically," Saltzman said. "You go to a dermatologist, they see a lesion and inject into it, and it's gone, and you don't have to come back."

Specializing in nanoparticles, Saltzman's lab, worked to optimize the particles' drug-carrying ability to deliver as much of the chemotherapy agent in a single dose as possible. Because the contents of the nanoparticle remain at the site of the tumor, the delivery system allows for the use of particularly powerful drugs. The toxicity of the drugs is more limited/restricted because conventional chemotherapy affects the entire body and can have severe side effects.3

Start-up company Stradefy Biosciences Inc. is working with both Yale Cancer Center members, Girardi and Saltzman, with plans to advance the technology's preclinical development and then conduct clinical trials and expect to deliver the treatments to dermatology offices nation-wide as soon as possible.


Works Cited

1. Jamie K. Hu, Hee-Won Suh, Munibah Qureshi, Julia M. Lewis, Sharon Yaqoob, Zoe M. Moscato, Sofia Griff, Alison K. Lee, Emily S. Yin, W. Mark Saltzman, Michael Girardi. Nonsurgical treatment of skin cancer with local delivery of bioadhesive nanoparticlesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (7):

2. Emily, Henderson; "Yale scientists develop an injection-based therapy for skin cancer" Feb. 2, 2021, Medical News Life Sciences

3. William, Weir; “Researchers develop injection to treat skin cancer” February 1, 2021, YaleNews

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