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‘Pied Piper’ device lures tumors out of the brain in ‘game changing’ breakthrough (VIDEO)

‘Pied Piper’ device lures tumors out of the brain in ‘game changing’ breakthrough (VIDEO)
The Tumor Monorail, a device which tricks aggressive brain tumors into leaving the brain into an external container, making them far easier to treat and kill, has been described as a “breakthrough device” by the FDA.

The monorail, affectionately dubbed the ‘Pied Piper,’ mimics the brain’s white matter to attract cancerous tumors and stop them from spreading deeper into the brain, greatly reducing their lethality in the process. More specifically, the device contains physical structures and pathways similar to those in the brain along which cancer tumors are prone to traveling.

“The tumor monorail device is a true game-changer in how we think about treating brain tumors,” said Barun Brahma, a neurosurgeon at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who has been a member of the research team since its inception. “This device affords clinicians the ability to surgically treat these [inoperable] tumors with a minimal approach.”

The device first made headlines in 2014 after showing great promise in tests performed with rats: researchers were successfully able to entice glioblastoma (an aggressive type of brain tumor with a poor survival rate) cells out of the brain and towards a repository filled with toxic, cancer-killing gel. The tumors’ spread slowed dramatically and they ultimately shrank by more than 90 percent.

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The new “breakthrough” classification from the FDA will greatly expedite the approval, review and production process meaning that drugs and/or treatments hit the market much faster than they would otherwise. The researchers have removed the toxic gel component to further expedite FDA approval, and are working toward gaining FDA approval for human trials by the end of 2019.

“This was the first demonstration that you can engineer migration inside the body and move a tumor from point A to point B by design,” explained Ravi Bellamkonda from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

“It was also the first demonstration of bringing the tumor to your drug rather than your drug going into the brain and killing valuable cells.”

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The device, which resembles a long, thin catheter tube with a small reservoir at the end that sits on top of the skull under the scalp, could vastly reduce the lethality of brain tumors in the future, once it has been cleared for human trials and results come even close to those achieved in previous animals trials.

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