In a study, Chinese scientists developed a hydrogel that may burn up tumors more precisely and boost anti-tumor immunity at the same time. Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the study, published in Science Advances, described a metal-based biomaterial that improved heating efficiency and restricted the heating zone under microwave exposure, leading to local tumor ablation.
An alginate-based hydrogel containing calcium and manganese ions produces more heat in a restricted, targeted area without damaging nearby healthy tissues, according to researchers at Soochow University’s Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials. Additionally, excess extracellular calcium ions have been found to promote complete ablation of the primary tumor by sensitizing cancer cells to mild thermal damage.
Once cancer cells have been burned to death, calcium and manganese ions will further prime innate and adaptive immune responses against tumors. In this mechanism, molecular pathways are activated to inhibit the growth of both metastatic and relapsed tumors, write co-corresponding authors Feng Liangzhu and Liu Zhuang of Soochow University. Feng said that the researchers are now exploring the possibility of clinical translation.