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Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer: All Wrapped Up in a Bandage

Most of us think of bandages as a way to protect cuts and abrasions against infection. However, recent research shows that a novel radiotherapeutic bandage may help treat squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). A group of scientists from the University of North Texas System College of Pharmacy presented their findings at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a common form of cancer that develops near the surface of the skin and tends to grow and spread rapidly. Many patients receive radiation therapy following resection or as a primary treatment for inoperable lesions. However, radiation therapy is invasive, often requires specialized instrumentation and facilities, and may yield undesirable cosmetic and functional outcomes. Therefore, the researchers at the University of North Texas aimed to investigate ways of overcoming these pitfalls.

To make the bandage, the scientists used electrospinning, which uses an electrical charge to create thin fibers from a liquid, to incorporate 166Ho-containing nanoparticles into polymers. The bandages were placed on mice with SCC, and the 166Ho-containing polymers were activated immediately prior to therapy. The bandages delivered a dose of radioactivity similar to that of conventional radiation for 1 hour, and the tumor sizes were measured for up to 15 days after the treatment. After 15 days, the tumors were eliminated or substantially smaller in the mice receiving the radioactive bandage than in those receiving a non-radioactive bandage or no treatment.

The authors plan to investigate the technology in larger animal models and the optimal dose of radiation needed for efficacy. However, they indicate that the present results suggest the technology may be a less invasive radiotherapeutic method that can be individually tailored based on the size and shape of the lesion.

Source: American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (2015). Radiotherapeutic bandage shows potential as treatment for skin cancer. ScienceDaily, accessed October 28, 2015.

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