A new device nicknamed the “Tumor Monorail” has just received breakthrough device designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The device is a network of extremely thin fibres made from a gel-like substance that mimics the properties of a brain.
These fibres 'guide' glioblastoma cells away from the primary location of the tumour and towards the exterior of the brain. The cancerous cells are then collected and removed.
Glioblastoma is the most common high-grade primary brain tumour occurring in adults. Treating this tumour has proven to be tremendously difficult due to the tumour's aggressive nature and tendency to spread throughout the brain.
This device aims to counteract the spread of cancerous cells by providing an alternative pathway for the tumour to travel.
The device was initially publicised in 2014 when the research team at Georgia Tech and Emory University published a study outlining the efficacy of this device in pre-clinical models.
The researchers demonstrated that tumour volume or the amount of the tumour inside the brain was reduced significantly upon insertion of the device.
After extensive research and optimisation, the device has just received breakthrough device designation by the U.S. FDA.
The goal of breakthrough device designation is to give patients more timely access to innovative devices by speeding up their development, assessment and review.
However, it is important to note that this does not mean the device has been approved for clinical use yet.
This device is a fantastic use of technology to help prevent tumour growth without damaging healthy tissue and potentially improve outcomes for affected individuals.
It is also important to note however, that these are early results and further research has to be conducted before this device is safe to use in people.
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There is also a video explaining the device.