Medical

How a simple ethanol injection could revolutionize some cancer treatments

How a simple ethanol injection...
Ethanol - good to fuel your car, and now potentially kill tumors
Ethanol - good to fuel your car, and now potentially kill tumors
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Ethanol - good to fuel your car, and now potentially kill tumors
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Ethanol - good to fuel your car, and now potentially kill tumors

Scientists have known for some time that ethanol can kill cancer cells, but several limitations held it back from becoming a broadly used treatment. A team at Duke University has recently developed a new type of ethanol solution that can be injected directly into a variety of tumors to potentially offer a new, safe, and cheap form of cancer treatment.

Ethanol ablation is a form of cancer therapy where ethanol is injected directly into a tumor. It is currently used only for some types of liver and thyroid cancers and the treatment is notoriously limited because of the need to use large volumes of ethanol that can damage surrounding tissue. This means it is primarily only effective for tumors surrounded by a fibrous capsule that can contain the ethanol.

Researchers at Duke University have overcome these limitations by developing a solution that mixes ethanol with ethyl cellulose. This novel solution turns into a gel when injected into a tumor, allowing it to remain concentrated at the site of injection.

The team studied the effects of the new ethanol treatment in hamsters with induced cheek cancers. A control group was established and its tumors were injected with pure ethanol. Positive results were identified only when large volumes of ethanol were used, and even then only four of 12 treated tumors regressed completely after eight days.

The ethanol gel group, on the other hand, displayed rather extraordinary results. After eight days all seven tumors treated with the ethanol gel had completely disappeared.

The Duke University team is clear in pointing out this is still just an early proof-of-concept trial with a very small sample size, but the results are encouraging. One of the primary outcomes suggested by the research is an ability to increase cancer treatments offered in the developing world. While this kind of ethanol ablation may be just as effective as tumor removal by surgery, it is significantly easier and cheaper, allowing for simple, non-surgical treatments for those in areas that lack effective medical resources.

The treatment could also prove useful for a variety of other tumors, from some breast cancers to cervical precancerous lesions.

The team's research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: American Council on Science and Health

13 comments
MartinVoelker
Rather ironic that a liver cancer - often cause by alcohol abuse - might be reined in by heavy doses of (well contained) alcohol.
Ralf Biernacki
@MartinV: sort of like homeopathy in reverse. ;-) <p> I'm a little worried about the potential for unauthorized self-medication this treatment offers. Desperate cancer sufferers might try to self-inject. Not to mention various quacks. Ethanol is just about the most easily available chemical there is.
pmshah
I don't believe excessive alcohol consumption has ever been the cause of liver cancer. Of Cirrhosis yes.
GOllieOlwagen
Ethanol is nothing but ordinary ethyl alcohol -- the spirit of spirits, the liquid that makes one as drunk as a lord and do funny things. But then (to paraphrase the Bard) a rose by any other name would have just as many thorns ...
Robert in Vancouver
Imagine of we put half of the effort and money being wasted on global warming into finding a cure for cancer. There would be a simple and effective cure for cancer by now. Shame on Al Gore and his brainwashed followers.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
Considering the nasty side effects of mainstream cancer treatment, this seems like a winner for different kinds of cancers.
rutnerh
Potentially revolutionary discovery of a general cancer therapy with ethanol- ethyl cellulose gel (possibly not optimal since this gel may not metabolize) for localized carcinomas, especially when well encapsulated like prostate or even breast cancer masses. Also useful may be combination therapies with established aggressive anti tumor agents. May obviate therapies with flawed and overpriced therapies with short lived biopharma antibodies.
toyhouse
A very in encouraging development in the cancer fight. The only phrases that always trouble me are when they say things like, these are only early results or, a lot more tests are needed. Even when using drugs or compounds already approved. Then months turn into years and we never hear about it again. And that's why a lot of folks don't trust big farma. And this certainly looks to be a distruptuve tech that those who stand to lose money would like to control. Forgive us turning a potential possivitve into politics.
Veronica Roach
Sounds nice & simple & SHOULD then be inexpensive - EXCEPT THAT I will wait to see what the Big Pharma corporations do to this - they will try to kill anything that smacks of cheap & easy ! I do not trust the Medical World as long as they let the drug companies train them & teach them what to use - they are captive & the whole thing needs to be thoroughly dismantled & some encouragement given to those seriously trying to do the right thing as it seems these researchers are trying to do !
Imran Sheikh
This method can also be safely used by detaching a body part(eg- a part of liver or Breast tissues) curing it with this method and re-attaching if back to patient..