Arlington

Why a researcher is comparing his cancer treatment to a 'roach motel'

UTA professor Liping Tang's research is focusing on a way to isolate cancer cells and treat them away from healthy tissue.
UTA professor Liping Tang's research is focusing on a way to isolate cancer cells and treat them away from healthy tissue. UTA

A University of Texas at Arlington researcher has found a way to lure hidden cancer cells out of their hiding places where they can be treated without harming healthy tissue.

In layman's terms, UTA researcher Liping Tang is able to spring a trap on cancer cells to keep them from spreading to the rest of the body.

"It works like a roach motel," said Tang, a professor in UTA's department of bioengineering. "We will release toxin in a cancer trap just like a roach motel."

He now has a patent in Europe and U.S. patent is pending. Clinical trials could start in about two years.

A roach motel is a popular pest control product once known for the phrase "roaches check in but they don't check out."

Tang said it could work for a variety of treatments from prostate cancer to esophageal cancer but funding will ultimately decide where the focus is directed.

It is designed to work for metastatic cancers, the kind that spread from one part of the body to another.

How does Tang's device attract cancer cells?

Tang said he uses biomolecules that entice the cells to come out from hiding in healthy tissues. Then a targeted use of chemotherapy or radiation can be used.

“We have made a nano-sized device that we can put under the skin using an injection needle to recruit the cancer cells into a small area where we can treat them with less overall side effects to the whole body,” Tang said.

He was named President of the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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