Ann Conkle
Mar 23, 2012

'Bed-of-nails' breast implant deters cancer cells

Many women with breast cancer will undergo surgery to remove the tumor and require at least some breast reconstruction, often in the form of implants. However, malignant cells return for as many as one-fifth of women, according to the American Cancer Society. Would it be possible to engineer implant materials that might drive down that rate of relapse? A team at Brown University has created an implant with a ‘bed-of-nails’ surface at the nanoscale (with dimensions of one-billionth of a meter, or 1/50,000th the width of a human hair) that deters cancer cells from dwelling there. Made out of a common federally approved polymer, the implant is the first of its kind, with modifications at the nanoscale, that causes a reduction in the blood-vessel architecture on which breast cancer tumors depend -- while also attracting healthy breast cells.