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Collaborative Success Stories: Sphere Factor

science microscope

The University of Missouri developed and supplies TheraSphere®, an ingenious liver cancer treatment.

Discovering new ways to address chronic illnesses and quality of life issues is a major priority at MU. In the 1980s, Dr. Gary Ehrhardt, a senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor Center, collaborated with Dr. Delbert Day, an engineer and ceramic specialist at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, part of the University of Missouri System, to investigate how medical science could assist patients with inoperable liver cancer.

Their ingenious solution was injecting millions of microscopic radioactive spherical glass beads into arteries feeding the liver. After reaching the cancerous liver, the beads, about a third of the width of a human hair, become lodged in the tumor, attacking malignant tissue with minimal impact to healthy liver cells.

Ehrhardt and Day received five patents for TheraSphere. It was approved by the FDA in 2000 and is now used throughout the U.S. and Canada. The glass microspheres are manufactured by Mo-Sci Corporation, a Missouri-based company founded by Dr. Delbert Day. TheraSphere is activated by the MU Research Reactor, the most powerful university research reactor in the nation, and is a registered trademark of Thereagenics Corporation.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine