Upcoming Webinars Archived Webinars Training Vitals Host A Webinar About Get Updates Contact

Image-Guided Cryoablation Could Improve Effectiveness of Cancer Immunotherapy



According to Williams, the technique could improve effectiveness and reduce costs of pricey new cancer therapies.

Tweetables from this article:

Tweet: The average #immunotherapy costs $300,000 per year http://ctt.ec/hY2fH+ The average #immunotherapy costs $300,000 per year.

Share this!

October 14, 2016 | by Sarah Hand, M.Sc.

Dr. Jason Williams, a medical doctor with Image Guided Cancer Specialist, has developed a method of delivering immunotherapy cancer drugs directly into tumors using image-guided cryoablation. According to Williams, the technique could improve effectiveness and reduce costs of pricey new cancer therapies.

Historically, cancer has been a tough disease to treat as tumor cells use multiple mechanisms to evade the body’s immune system. New immunotherapy drugs – such as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy and Opdivo, and Merck’s Keytruda – trigger the immune system to mount a response against cancerous tissue.

Unfortunately, these drugs are very expensive, with the average cost totaling $300,000 per year. In addition, these drugs have the propensity to over-activate the immune system, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition known as a cytokine storm.

This reaction is made more likely because the immunotherapy drugs are administered to patients intravenously. Williams argues that targeting drug delivery directly to the site of the tumor could improve outcomes and mitigate the risk of serious autoimmune adverse events.

Williams’ views are supported by research; in animal studies, injection of immunotherapy drugs coupled with cryoablation of tumors has resulted in an 80 percent improvement in survival rates. Cryoablation kills tumor cells by stimulating the release of anti-cancer antigens, however this treatment is often insufficient if used in isolation.

“Biologically, the idea makes sense, because intentionally leaving dead tissue for the body to dispose of naturally is a way to potentially immunize against cancer cells,” said Dr. Alex Y. Huang, associate professor of the department of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and clinical fellowship director of the division of pediatric hematology/oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center/Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. “Cryoablation uses cold temperature to induce necrotic cell death, which is a signal for the immune system to wake up. The dead tumor proteins will be seen as foreign by the immune system, which will attack the cancer.”

Williams’s method begins by applying cryoablation to tumors to freeze and kill cancer cells. Using image-guidance technology, probes are inserted into the tumor and immunotherapy drugs – namely immune checkpoint inhibitors – are injected directly into the cancerous mass.

“This has the double benefit of activating the local immune system against cancer in other locations, without globally activating the immune system against the patient's healthy tissue,” said Huang. “The risk of hitting the wrong tissue is low, and we know these drugs are safe at much higher systemic rather than smaller, targeted doses. The potential for systemic toxicity is lower and, because the drugs are given only locally, the cost is vastly reduced.”

A localized injection reduces the amount of immunotherapy drug needed to stimulate a patient response; animal models typically require one-eighth the dose used for intravenous drug delivery. This means that local injection of currently-approved therapies could cost $37,500 – as opposed to $300,000 – per year.

Williams has tested this method in 80 human cancer patients. One patient, a woman with advanced breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs, bones and brain – saw a particularly positive outcome.

“A single treatment ablated two lung tumors and, using combination immunotherapy, she had complete resolution of the tumors in the body and 50% reduction in size and number of the brain tumors,” said Williams. “In many patients, we have seen complete resolution of their cancer, even in remote sites not directly treated. We have treated enough patients now to know that these results are not a fluke, but I look forward to testing this therapy in an official clinical trial.”

Keywords: Cancer, Immunotherapy, Drug Delivery


Share this with your colleagues!

Canadian Regulator Recalls Pie Shells Over E. Coli Contaminated Flour

April 28, 2017 - Multiple brands of pie and tart shells are being recalled in Canada after the flour used to manufacture them was linked to 28 cases of illness due to infection with E. coli O121.

Featured In: Food News

FDA Sends Warning Letters to Manufacturers of Fake Cancer Drugs

April 27, 2017 - The FDA is cracking down on the sale of illegal cancer drugs by sending warning letters to 14 US companies selling the unapproved products.

Featured In: Life Science News, Drug Safety News

Womb-Like Device Could Increase Survival of Premature Babies

April 27, 2017 - Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have developed a womb-like device which mimics the environmental conditions found inside the uterus.

Featured In: Life Science News, Medical Device News


What Medical Device Manufacturers Need to Know Before Developing a Biological Safety Evaluation


Technology Solutions for Late Phase Research: Optimising Real World Data Assets

Serialization for Late Starters – With Live Industry Research Results

Clinical Not All Antioxidants Are Created Equal: Astaxanthin, The Antioxidant Powerhouse

The New Gold Standards of IRT Delivery for Clinical Trials

Copyright © 2016-2017 Honeycomb Worldwide Inc.