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Study suggests simple way to improve chemo drug performance

Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against many different forms of cancer. The problem with it is that the chemicals that are used can be deadly. Doctors don't want to give patients too much of the stuff. If they do, the intended cure could be worse than the disease.

And there is an added issue related to chemotherapy drugs. They are usually delivered directly into the body through the blood circulation system by way of an intravenous catheter. That raises the possibility of bacterial infection at the IV site. To limit the chances of that, the equipment is often coated with silver.

Typically, the presence of silver would be a good thing because the so-called "noble" metal naturally prevents microbe growth, but a recent study led by researchers in Norway suggests that the silver coating can react with the drugs and have the effect of degrading some of them -- possibly to the point of reducing their effectiveness.

Clearly, if a patient is going to be subjected to such rigorous treatment, the subject and the doctors want it to work to full measure. Anything less might possibly lead to justifiable product defect claims. The good news is that there's apparently an easy way to fix the issue. All it takes is switching from silver-coated catheters to ones using some other material.

In the study at hand, the material that researchers looked at was graphene and it was tested against a drug called 5FU, commonly used to treat a wide range of cancers.

As the senior author of the study notes, graphene is "sometimes referred to as a magical material that can solve any problem." But apparently it has been completely overlooked as in combination with chemotherapy drugs. And what researchers found is that graphene worked as planned.

The hope is that the discovery will mean more effective cancer treatments going forward.

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