Innovation and Partnerships Office

Copolymer Electrolyte Mesh Filtering TACE Therapy Components 2014-140


  • Cancer treatment using transarterial chemoembolization (TACE)


  • Concentrates TACE reagents in the tumor area
  • Reduces amount of Doxorubicin circulating in the body
  • High binding capacity and fast binding kinetics specifically accommodate large amounts of Doxorubicin
  • Not thrombogenic


Researchers at Berkeley Lab, in collaboration with peers at the University of California, San Francisco, have created a copolymer membrane used when treating hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) patients with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) to both increase the treatment dose to a tumor site and decrease systemic drug level.

TACE utilizes high doses of chemicals that can be harmful to healthy body cells The block copolymer membrane, used as a temporary chemotherapy filter, is designed to quickly bind with Doxorubicin used in TACE therapy and prevent its entrance into the bloodstream. By placing this membrane at the tumor’s exit vein from the kidney, the amount of systemic Doxorubicin is diminished while increasing the amount of active TACE reagents at the tumor site. The mesh, synthesized from polystyrene copolymers, is designed to be between 30 and 50 nanometers thick. With 40% porosity, the membrane is capable of binding up to 80% of the filtered Doxorubicin. As noted in the researchers’ publication, linked below, a seven fold-decrease in systemic Doxorubicin levels was measured after the implementation of this copolymer membrane in experimental conditions.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide and a persistent form of cancer. As hepatocellular carcinoma is not often surgically treatable, aggressive chemotherapeutic treatments are used. However, these regimens can pose their own set of health risks to patients. For example, as much as 50% of TACE reagents may exit the kidney and enter the systemic circulation over the course of this chemotherapy treatment, potentially harming healthy tissues and cells rather than cancerous ones.

STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: A recent pre-clinical trial published by the Journal of Medical Devices (see link below) sites the successful in-vitro testing of the copolymer membrane.


Patel, A.S., Saeed, M.,Yee, E.J., Yang, J., Lam, G.J., Losey, A.D., Lillaney, P.V., Thorne, B., Chin, A.K., Malik, S., Wilson, M.W., Chen, X.C., Balsara, N.P., Hetts, S.W. “Development and Validation of Endovascular Chemotherapy Filter Device for Removing High-Dose Doxorubicin: Preclinical Study,” Journal of Medical Devices, Vol. 8, December 2014, pp. 041008-1 – 041008-8