Knocking out cancer in late stages

Knocking out cancer in late stages
Knocking out cancer in late stages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For country singer Wade Hayes, music is his life.

But a few years ago, the music almost stopped when he was suffering from severe abdominal pain and bleeding.

“I had no idea what was happening. I thought I had ingested some glass or something,” Hayes said.

Wade went to his doctor.

“Sure enough, I had a tumor. From what I was told about it, I guess the size of an orange in my large intestine,” Hayes said.

It was stage 4 colon cancer.

Surgery got rid of the cancer, but it came back a year later.

“There is mounting evidence that any therapeutic interventions, whether it’s surgery, a needle biopsy, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy causes the release of cancer cells into the bloodstream,” said Michael King, department chair and Wilson Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

King and his team have found an approach to stop those cancer cells in their tracks.

Using blood samples from metastatic cancer patients, the team injected nanoparticles coated with proteins. The nanoparticles attach to white blood cells and in the study, the viable cancer cells were cleared out within two hours of the injection.

“We believe that this could benefit patients who are even at a very late stage,” King said.

Like Hayes, who before this study has been cancer-free for over six years. Now he works to promote new research. He believes many more people like him might be able to survive despite grim odds.

The team has also done a test with mice using this approach for triple negative breast cancer, one of the toughest breast cancers to treat, and found that it was very effective. Their next step is to start a human clinical trial within the next two years.