The HAMR Fights Cancer


HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Ovarian cancer is deadly, difficult to treat and has an extremely high mortality rate for women, killing 15,000 a year in the U.S. But now, Rice University researchers in Texas are on a revolutionary path to develop an implantable device to activate the immune system and stop cancer in its tracks. HAMR

Ovarian cancer is deadly, often caught late, and spreads quickly. As a reactionary response to disease, abdominal fluid builds up.

“They have to continuously get it drained, but also, has been a barrier to getting drugs and other therapies to the abdomen space, where the cancer cells reside,” explains Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Director of Biotechnology Launch Pad at Rice University, Omid Veiseh, PhD.

(Read Full Interview)

Traditional cancer treatment is static and takes time.

Veiseh explains, “So, we’re building this new technology as a totally new transformative way to manage cancer.”

This three-inch implant is called a Hybrid Advanced Molecular Manufacturing Regulator. These beads will hold the therapy.

“We’ve given this the acronym, HAMR, and this device, actually, both produces the drug, but monitors in real-time, how the therapy is working,” Veiseh further explains.

Immunotherapies are biologic drugs that activate the immune system to eliminate cancer.

Veiseh adds, “The clinician would be able to download data from this device, monitor this device, then be able to know exactly how the therapy is affecting the cancer, and make adjustments. Our vision for this solution is, rather than hooking patients up to IV bags and monitors in hospital beds, what if you could miniaturize all that monitoring into a device that gets implanted?”

And the patients, monitored remotely, can just go home.

The implanted device would communicate wirelessly, probably through a smart phone.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries, the female reproductive organs responsible for producing eggs, and the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The form of cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen, making it more challenging to treat effectively. It has a high mortality rate for women killing almost 15,000 people per year. It is still unclear what exactly causes ovarian cancer but doctors believe they understand what increases the risks of it developing. The disease begins when cells near the ovaries mutate in their DNA.


DIAGNOSING: Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can include abdominal bloating or swelling, feeling full quickly when eating, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvic region, fatigue, back pain, changes in the stools, constipation, and overly frequent urination. One way to prevent developing ovarian cancer is considering taking birth control and discussing possible risk factors with your doctor. Tests and procedures used to diagnose ovarian cancer can include a pelvic exam, imaging tests, blood tests, surgeries, and genetic testing. Once the disease is confirmed a doctor will assign a stage one through four. Stage one indicates that the cancer is confined to the ovaries while stage four indicates the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new drug in ovarian cancer research called Bevacizumab is a targeted therapy that has been researched. Each kind of targeted therapy drug works differently, but they all aim to attack the cell’s inner workings. This programming makes them differ from other normal healthy cells. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that can interfere with the ability of cancer cells to grow and spread. It is commonly prescribed with another medication alongside it.



Silvia Cernea Clark

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Omid Veiseh, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Director of Biotechnology Launch Pad

Read the entire Q&A