There has been a new discovery that proves an ethanol-based gel can achieve a 100% cure rate when injected directly into squamous cell tumors. The cancer treatment, is relatively low-cost, simply administered could drastically improve outcomes in the developing world.
Researchers from Duke University have reported a 100% cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma in a hamster model by injecting an ethanol-based gel directly into tumors. The work was published in Nature Scientific Reports, was enthused by an existing low-cost therapy know as ethanol ablation, and enhances the method to work on a number of tumors.
Ethanol, can terminate certain tumors when injected because it destroys proteins and fatally dehydrates cells, through a process called ethanol ablation. Ethanol ablation has been used to treat liver cancer, with a cost of less than $5 per treatment and a success rate that is similar to the surgery option.
Though, the downside to ethanol ablation is that it’s a limited treatment technique. The researchers looked to improve the method by mixing ethanol with ethyl cellulose to create a solution that transforms into a gel within tumors, staying close to the injection site.
The researchers ran trial runs with the gel on a hamster model: specifically in hamsters with oral squamous cell carcinoma. Control hamsters’ tumors were injected with 100% pure ethanol, while experimental hamsters’ got the new ethanol gel. Following the seven days, 6 to 7 tumors retreated completely in the hamsters that got the ethanol gel. At the end of the eighth day, all 7 tumors were eliminated, with a cure rate of 100%.
It’s no surprise that cancer treatments everywhere are costly, but in the developing world, it is usually unavailable. Cutting-edge technology is in short supply in developing areas, and even healthcare professionals and electricity may not be available. This is one of the main reasons why a person in the developing world who’s been diagnosed with cancer is way more probable to die from it than a person in the developed world.
The small tests and animal model used in this research mean more work is needed before this research goes further than the proof-of-concept stage. All the same, the results are very positive. The team thinks even a single injection of the ethanol-based gel could cure certain kinds of tumors, and that it may be able to treat some cervical precancerous lesions and breast cancers. Possibly most important, any advances in this research will benefit patients across the globe.