Fat drug delivery

Diagram illustrating how fat liposomes are used to deliver drugs.

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: We love to hate fat. But a report in today's Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds a good use for fat. Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH.


HELEN PALMER: Duke University oncologist Mark Dewhirst says he's developed minuscule balloons made of fat, stuffed full of cancer drugs.

They're injected into the blood stream. When they're heated, the fat balloons melt, so if a tumor's warmed with microwaves - the balloons become tiny drug delivery trucks.

MARK DEWHIRST: Once they get into the area that's being heated they dump their contents out very rapidly. Within 20 seconds they dump everything out.

This targeted therapy delivers 30 times as much of the drug to the warm tumor and virtually none to cooler healthy tissue.

In rats, tumors shrank dramatically and treated rodents survived longer than their peers.

Now the fat balloons are in human trials for colon cancer that's spread to the liver and in advanced breast cancer.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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