New weapon to fight cancer regrowth

Cambridge UK medical technology innovator Team Consulting has developed a revolutionary way to monitor and deliver drugs to serious wounds to stop infection and cancers to prevent regrowth post-surgery.

The concept, dubbed Spatial Reach, uses a combination of clever hardware and software to enable visualisations of wounds and cancers and detect biomarkers.

The machine can then be reversed to deliver therapy directly to the areas of the wound or tumour that need it most.

Team says the innovation has the potential to address two significant unmet clinical needs – early detection of cancer regrowth following surgery and detection of infection within chronic wounds.

Spatial Reach, gives clinicians the ability to non-invasively monitor the site of an internal tumour excision or a chronic wound.

Once a site has been analysed then the same platform can then be used to deliver highly targeted therapy to the precise areas where treatment is required, either to kill remaining cancer cells or to treat wound infections – all without exposing nearby tissue directly to either chemotherapy agents or to unnecessary antibiotics.

The patented technique has the potential to dramatically reduce patient recovery time and increase the survival rate of critically ill patients.

Utilising low-cost hollow fibre tubing currently used for haemodialysis, alongside specially engineered hardware and software, Spatial Reach fuses diagnostics and therapy and has the potential to create a whole new category of advanced wound care.

A continuous spiral or zig-zag pattern of the porous hollow fibre tubing is placed into or onto the target area. The tubing is filled with saline and the surgical site can be closed or a dressing can be applied as normal.

With the tubing in place any biomarkers of cancer or infection can diffuse into the tube. The presence of cancer regrowth or infection can then be monitored by pumping out and analysing the column of fluid.

When the sample is passed through a handheld reader, healthcare professionals can see not only whether cancer or infection is present but exactly where it is in three dimensions.

Critically, having analysed the sample, the Spatial Reach platform can then be run ‘in reverse’ so that chemotherapy or an antibiotic can be delivered to back to just those areas within the wound where it is required.

Slugs of chemotherapy or antibiotic are pumped back by the device into the tubing – interspersed with saline – so that the therapy ends up adjacent to the infection or cancer. The drug can then diffuse out of the porous tubing and only treats the targeted region.

This allows toxic chemotherapy to be used without causing damage to healthy tissue. It will also allow ‘last ditch’ antibiotics to be delivered which can treat superbugs such as MRSA yet which are too toxic to be given to vulnerable patients systemically.

Dr Ben Wicks, Head of Critical Care at Team Consulting, said: “Using Spatial Reach to directly treat tumours and severe wounds could transform treatment for millions of people.

“Currently there are very few tools available for healthcare professionals to adequately monitor tumour excision sites and wounds, and most techniques employed today involve significant distress for patients.

“By contrast our new system enables samples to be taken, and medication to be delivered, without disturbing patients at all which could have a dramatic impact on the efficacy of therapy.

“Spatial Reach is an early-stage concept but it offers significant benefits to surgeons, healthcare professionals and patients. The feedback from industry experts has been very positive and we’ll be using AdvaMed in Washington to further talks with industry players.”

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