Are cows key to edible chemotherapy?
DENVER – Many people who have gone through chemotherapy will tell you getting IV drips in the hospital is one of the worst parts of the treatment.
But what if you could take those powerful chemotherapy drugs in your own home?
That's just one of the benefits of an innovative therapy coming from an unlikely source.
Ana Garcia Gustafson, who is fighting pancreatic cancer, is taking a mix of potent chemo drugs.
Treatment days are six-hour infusions. Some chemo drugs can be given orally, but many must be given by IV.
"Some drugs just cannot survive the condition in the stomach," said Tom Anchordoquy, a pharmaceutical scientist at the University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy.
Anchordoquy has found an unusual way to change that.
"It'd make things a lot easier and cheaper," he said.
Anchordoquy is putting powerful drugs into raw milk.
Milk particles can survive harsh stomach conditions and make it to the bloodstream, right where cancer drugs need to be.
"This particle goes in and it protects it. It's like you'd be surrounded by a shield," Anchordoquy said.
That means patients could take powerful drugs that normally have to be given by IV orally at home.
Additionally, potent drugs too dangerous for humans could now work when attached to milk particles.
"By putting them in these particles, we can hopefully minimize their toxicity a little bit and make them a little more amenable to human use," Anchordoquy said.
His biggest supporter is Gustafson.
"What a great mind to think outside the box!" Gustafson said.
With hope intact, Gustafson's learning to live a new normal.
"We'll take it one day at a time. I wanna live. I want to live," she said.
Scientists said getting treated at home is a big plus for patients undergoing chemotherapy, but researchers are even more excited about what this technique could mean for future treatments.
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