Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a new implantable device, which delivers chemotherapy drugs directly to pancreatic tumors.


The new implantable device was developed as part of bridge project that launched more than three years ago.

Researchers designed a flexible polymer film by using polymer PLGA that is mostly used for drug delivery and other medical applications.

The film will be drifted into a tube and inserted through a catheter. Later, the film will unfold and conforms to the shape of the tumor, once it reaches the pancreas.

The study lead author Laura Indolfi said: "It’s clear there is huge potential for a device that can localize treatment at the disease site.

"You can implant our device to achieve a localized drug release to control tumor progression and potentially shrink [the tumor] to a size where a surgeon can remove it."

In a study of mice, the researchers determined that delivering chemotherapy drugs through small implantable device were more effective compared to giving by intravenous injection.

Under the study, the researchers compared two groups of mice carrying transplanted human pancreatic tumors.

One group secured the drug-delivery implant loaded with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, while the other received systemic injections of the same drug for four weeks, which mimics the treatment human patients usually receive.

Tumor growth slowed in mice with the drug-delivery implant, and in some cases tumors shrank. In addition, the film has reduced metastasis of nearby organs by acting as a physical barrier.

Currently, the researchers are planning to design a clinical trial for human patients. The approach is also expected to be useful to treat other tumors that are difficult to reach, such as tumors of the gastrointestinal tract.

Image: MIT and MGH researchers have developed a implantable device that delivers chemotherapy drugs to pancreatic tumors. Photo: courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.