A new treatment and an industrial fabrication process called coaxial electrospinning have been developed by the researchers at the University of Cincinnati for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme or GBM.
GBM is a common and extremely aggressive brain cancer and is responsible for more than half of all primary brain tumors.
The coaxial electrospinning is used to form drug-containing membranes. In this, two or more materials are combined into a fine fiber composed of a core of one material surrounded by a sheath of another.
This fabrication process allows researchers to take advantage of the unique properties of every material to deliver a potent dose of medicine immediately or over time.
The rate at which these drugs are released can be controlled by selecting the base materials of the fiber and the thickness of the sheath.
With the electrospun fibers, one drug can be quickly released for short-term treatment such as pain relief or antibiotics, while an additional drug or drugs such as chemotherapy is released over a longer period.
The fibers created for the study provided a tablet-like disk that increased the amount of medicine that could be applied, lowered the initial burst release and enhanced the sustainability of the drug release over time.
The device is directly implanted into the part of the brain where the tumor is removed surgically. As the treatment has to get through the blood-brain barrier, the whole-body dose you get must be much higher.
This can be dangerous and may have toxic side-effects too. One advantage of electrospinning was the ability to dispense multiple drugs sequentially over a long-term release and the latest cancer treatments rely on a multiple-drug approach to prevent drug resistance and improve efficacy.
Unlike traditional chemotherapy, a safe and effective dose of medicine for brain tumors can be delivered by this novel engineering process without exposing patients to toxic side effects.
Survival rates were improved in three separate animal trials that examined safety, toxicity, efficacy, and membrane degradation with chemotherapy using electrospun fiber.