The LifeSTEM pictured above features a multi-chambered reservoir, allowing for targeted delivery to various different locations in and around the tumor space. The incorporation of a radio-opaque, or X-ray visible lid allows physicians to visualize the placement and location of each chamber before injecting treatment through the scalp to minimize off-target cytotoxicity. The reservoir also features a flexible radius of curvature, to ensure a snug fit to the skull on which it’s anchored to. Both the sleeves and the catheters can be cut to any necessary length before implantation to account for inherent variability in patient anatomy and tumor location. A guiding sleeve is also included in our design to facilitate this implantation, to minimize damage to surrounding tissue, and to “guide” the catheters into place. Lastly, the LifeSTEM catheters feature perforated tips to allow for radial diffusion of therapy, maximizing reach and minimizing any potential reflux.
Our project focused on developing an implantable device for the recurrent and minimally invasive re-administration of cell therapies to the brain to treat gliomas. Gliomas are brain tumors that come in multiple forms ranging from low grade, benign tumors to high grade, malignant tumors including glioblastomas. Glioblastoma treatment involves surgical resection, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, these tumors are typically incompletely resected, so there is a 90% recurrence rate. While implantable devices currently exist for the delivery of drug-based therapies, there is no device designed for the delivery of cell therapy to the brain to treat gliomas. This presents a challenge as the initial administration of cell therapies is done in the operating room upon surgical resection, and another invasive surgery is required if another round of cell therapy treatment is to be administered.
To address these challenges, we created LifeSTEM – a revolutionary, neurological, implantable device designed for the local delivery of stem cells to treat patients with brain tumors. LifeSTEM utilizes a multi-chamber reservoir for targeted, local delivery of the therapy, a guiding sleeve and catheters that are customizable in length to account of variability in patient anatomy and tumor location, as well as perforated catheter tips to allow for radial diffusion of the therapy and minimize potential reflux. This device has the potential to reduce the risk of additional surgical procedures and extend patient lifespan. Our current focus on the delivery of mesenchymal stem cells has revealed just the tip of the iceberg of potential in the space, as expansion could include delivery of CAR T-cells, extracellular vesicles, nanoparticles, microRNA, drug therapies, as well as other neurological and non-neurological diseases.