Chemical ‘sponges’ designed to soak up toxic cancer-fighting drugs after targeting tumors

Now, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are helping to develop and test materials for a new device that can be inserted via a tiny tube into a vein and soak up most of these drugs like a sponge. That’s after a separate tube delivers a more concentrated dose to tumors — and before the drugs can widely circulate in the bloodstream.

Researchers say the drug-capture system could also potentially be applied to antibiotic treatments in combating dangerous bacterial infections while limiting their side effects.

From Fuel Cell to Cancer Treatment

X. Chelsea Chen, a postdoctoral researcher working in the Soft Matter Electron Microscopy program in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, had been investigating polymer membranes–which help current to flow in a fuel cell that converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity — when she learned about the concept for this new type of medical device.

She saw that

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