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Detonating Tumor-Killer Drug in Cancers on Command

Experiments at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., reported in a recent British Journal of Cancer, confirm that University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineer Neil Forbes' delivery and trigger system has for the first time successfully placed TRAIL, a cancer-fighting protein, directly into solid tumors and on cue, turned it on. The treatment improved the 30-day survival time of mice with mammary tumors from 0 to 100 percent.

"This is a first step, but it's the first time we've controlled delivery to the tumors and the first time we've been able to turn on production of a cytotoxic protein and kill tumors from within. With more work we should be able to fine-tune our methods," says Forbes. "As an engineer, what I've designed is transport and deployment, that is, a way to get the army in position plus a switch to signal those troops to arm themselves and attack."

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