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UK Doctors Experiment With "Targeted Chemo"

What's the Latest Development?

Two cancer patients at Southampton General Hospital are said to be improving three months after their livers were isolated from their main blood supply and pumped full of chemotherapy drugs, which were then filtered out of the body before the organs were reconnected. The isolation and "chemo-bath" procedure took 60 minutes, and only a small fraction of the dose was left in the body afterwards.

What's the Big Idea?

Because chemo drugs are normally delivered through the veins, the entire body is exposed in addition to the affected organ(s), resulting in common side effects such as fatigue and hair loss. Isolating the organ from the bloodstream allows delivery of higher doses without damaging the rest of the body. Radiologist Brian Stedman believes that any organ that can be temporarily separated in this way, such as the pancreas and the lungs, could potentially benefit. The technique, which is also being tested in the US and Europe, is still in its developing stages, but Stedman says, "In 20 years' time the idea of injecting a drug which poisons the whole body for a cancer in just one small area will seem bonkers."

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