Joseph DeSimone Image Map
Feb 042015
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A new device developed in the DeSimone lab and studied in collaboration with other researchers at UNC gives new hope for improving the treatment of pancreatic cancer and other highly difficult-to-treat cancers. Dr. James Byrne led the research effort. Findings were published on Feb. 4 in Science Translational Medicine and have been widely featured. Results show unprecedented tumor shrinkage in murine models of human cancer using the device compared to standard IV treatments. Improving the ability to shrink pancreatic tumors could open the door for more patients to qualify for life-saving surgeries. The device is the first known use of iontophoresis to treat pancreatic tumors. Using an electrical current, the device drives chemotherapeutic drugs directly into a tumor, creating higher drug concentrations in the tumor without increasing systemic toxicity. In 2014, Byrne achieved his PhD as a member of the DeSimone group; he is now completing his final stretch of medical school at UNC to obtain his MD.

In addition to major news outlets, the work has been highlighted by many departments and units at UNC, including as a UNC Campus Update, and by the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University Gazette, the Department of Chemistry, UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The National Institutes of Health’s Pioneer Award Program, which provided support for the research, has also featured the new breakthrough in a post titled “New Device Holds Promise for Hard-to-Reach Tumors”. The National Cancer Institute of the NIH, which also provided support, has also noted the work. Additionally, ScienceDaily has highlighted the work, as well as the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Sampling of media coverage:

Read the Science Magazine article by Robert F. Service, “Electric fields deliver drugs into tumors”

Read the Fox News article by Colleen Cappon, “New device could be solution for the most deadly form of cancer”

Read the News & Observer article by Jay Price, “DeSimone lab at UNC finds new way to attack pancreatic cancer”

Read NBC News article by Maggie Fox, “Device reaches where cancer drugs cannot”

Read the FierceDrugDelivery article by Michael Gibney, “UNC team uses electrical field to improve chemo delivery”

Additional resources:

UNC’s News Release on the new device

Download the Sci. Transl. Med. paper, “Local iontophoretic administration of cytotoxic therapies to solid tumors”


 February 4, 2015