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Positive-beads for drug delivery

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Cost-effective treatment for fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that affect the majority of women at some point in their lives. EU-funding enabled researchers to investigate new treatment technology to reduce cost, pain and infection.


One method of treatment is uterine fibroid embolisation (UFE). UFE relies on the delivery of small particles to the fibroid site via a catheter inserted through the uterine artery. The particles block the local blood supply causing the fibrous cells to die and the tissue to shrink in size. European researchers sought to improve UFE by reducing cost of treatment and integrating drug delivery via a new type of bead. European funding of the ‘Positive-beads for drug delivery’ (Posbeadd) project provided the opportunity. Scientists evaluated bead synthesis and delivery via catheter as well as development of a pre-clinical testing regime. In addition to synthesis of the beads themselves, investigators studied catheter design for safe, easy and timely insertion into the uterine artery. Ambitious overriding goals included reduction in length of treatment by 90 %, reduction in pain and infection associated with treatment by at least 50 % and reduction in hysterectomies by at least 5 %. Technology developed by the Posbeadd consortium has the potential to significantly improve UFE as a treatment for uterine fibroids as well as enhance the European position with respect to competition from Japan and the United States. Equally important, reducing the cost and ease of treatment should make it more widely used not only in western European countries but also in EU candidate countries and Eastern European countries. Posbeadd’s goal of providing the same standard of healthcare to all countries may soon become a reality.

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