Support: Hansjorg Wyss Foundation Award, AOSpine, Research Fellow Support via Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research (HHMI) Training Fellowship Grant
Principle Investigator: D.M. Sciubba
The recent advances in cancer therapy modalities combined with the growth of the elderly population are likely to increase the incidence of patients afflicted with metastatic spine disease. Among the 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed annually, nearly 10% of all patients will suffer from metastases to the vertebral column. Prognosis for these patients is dependent upon factors inherent to the tumor biology of the primary malignancy and extent of systemic metastasis at the time of presentation. Current treatment modalities, which comprise a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery, have not been efficient at prolonging the severely limited life expectancy of these patients.
Our laboratory has focused on placement of magnetic nanoparticles (extremely small particles) into the spine tumors of animals. Following minimally invasive direct injection, such particles can be heated via application of an external magnetic field, similar to that of an MRI scanner. Magnetic nanoparticles can be delivered by local injections to target cancer tissue, and when exposed to a magnetic field, the magnetic materials generate highly specific and effective thermoablative heat that can lead to significant tumor treatment in the area.