New hope for breast cancer patients that opt for reconstruction thanks to Akron researcher

AKRON, Ohio - A University of Akron researcher, who watched a loved one die from cancer, took charge of the deadly disease in her mind.

She couldn't stop thinking of how to beat it, so no one has to go through what she watched her family suffer from.

After years of working closely with big name cancer experts across the country, she is now developing a safer breast implant for women who opt for reconstruction after a breast cancer diagnosis.

During the process of reconstruction following mastectomy, a new kind of implant could actually fight infection, scarring and even cancer.

Dr. Judit Puskas from the University of Akron has designed a new material to help prepare the breast for reconstruction. What's different about this procedure is the implant will have a polymer coating on it that could actually help destroy cancer cells. She also envisions having the option of adding more or taking away the medication depending on the needs of the patient.

Dr. Puskas said, "Normally, they have the dosage per kilogram of body weight, so this is how they dose the cancer drug. You can add less drugs and it's right there at the vicinity of the cancer cells so it will be more effective."

She also said she feels that can possibly be done through a simple shot. But that is still in the working phase of this ground-breaking medical development in breast cancer.

This coating that will be embedded in the breast implant will help fight infection and inflammation, but Dr. Puskas said that's not all. "The implant will also directly target and destroy cancer cells all around the original cancer site, like a bullet."

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for the Akron Plastic Surgeon's and Akron General Hospital, Dr. John Pedersen, said there is a real need for this new implant.

Dr. Pendersen said, "You can almost liken this to a smart implant where the implant is actually tailored beyond what we have now as a static instrument for reconstruction or augmentation. It's something that will actually treat and see cancer. There's not always 100-percent assurance necessarily of every bit of every cell of cancer gone. This allows that to be detected and treated."

Tuesday, this discovery and idea was highly recognized.

Dr. Judit Puskas received international recognition from GE Healthcare as one of five of the most exciting and innovative ideas in the battle against breast cancer.

The "GE Healthymagination Cancer Challenge" will provide initial funding, mentorship and incubation in order to try to bring Dr. Puskas' discoveries to market. She's also eligible to receive more funding in the coming months.

So far, tests being done in the lab are showing great promise. Especially because right now, chemotherapy can only go through the body, and try to destroy the cancer cells, it can't go to the direct target which in this case is the breast and tissue around it.

Dr. Puskas hopes to see a prototype of the implant on the market in the next few years, and the final product completed in the next 10 years.

UA holds the patent application on this process of delivering drugs through the new implant.

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