Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Breakthrough Medical Device Lures Brain Tumor Cells Out

A new medical device developed by researchers at Duke University has recently been designated a "Breakthrough Device" by the FDA. The Tumor Monorail mimics the physical properties of the brain's white matter to lure tumor cells out towards the exterior of the brain, where they can be easily removed. The device aims to slow the progression of aggressive tumors that may be inoperable and make them more manageable. The device's breakthrough designation will put it on the fast track for development, assessment, and review, making it possible for it to get in the hands of clinicians faster. 


“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,” said Ravi Bellamkonda, the Vinik Dean of 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.”



From the Duke University article: "The device works by mimicking the physical structures of the brain’s white matter where it travels through a narrow opening connecting the left and right hemispheres—a popular growth track for glioblastoma. There are no chemicals or enzymes involved, and there are a wide variety of materials that the device could be made from. 

Because the material itself isn’t as important as its physical structure, the researchers have swapped a material into their design known to last a long time and be well tolerated by the human body. In its current iteration, the device resembles a long, thin catheter tube with a small reservoir at the end that sits on top of the skull under the scalp. The researchers have also done away with the toxic gel contained in the reservoir to simplify FDA approval."



Read more about the breakthrough medical device that lures brain tumor cells out of the patient at Duke University.