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can be tweaked chemically- so that it dissolves faster or slower, for example. The company is also testing the gel to see if it can suffocate tumours and fibroids by blocking their blood supply. Sawhney and his colleagues have special dispensers which plug up blood vessels with the gel. Tumours will wither and die if their blood supply is cut off, a process called anti-angiogenesis.

"We're talking about mechanical anti-angiogenesis," says Sawhney. "We can shut off every street or alley supplying the tumour," he says.

The same device is being tested experimentally as a way of treating aneurysms, the cardiovascular equivalents of tyre blowouts.

Martin Cortvriend of Genzyme, the company in Boston which makes existing films for preventing post-surgical adhesions, heard Sawhney's talk in London and agrees that the new system could be very useful in keyhole surgery.


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Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-207-331-2751
New Scientist
24-Oct-2000


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