Scientists have managed to partially destroy tumors using ultrasound

New hope for liver cancer patients: Scientists have found a new way to destroy tumors. The researchers in question work at the University of Michigan (UM) and have succeeded in destroying tumors in rats using ultrasound, a method that is classified as non-invasive.

The first tests showed that ultrasound waves could destroy up to 75% of tumors. This allows the rat’s immune system to take care of the remaining tissues and stop them from multiplying. According to the explanations of Zhen Xu, professor of biomedical engineering at UM and co-author of the study, even if the entire tumor is not attacked, the technique allows it to regress and reduce the risk of future metastases.

Credit University of Michigan

Today, liver cancer is among the 10 types of cancer that affect Americans the most. In 2018 alone, 30,000 cases of the disease were registered. According to the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer.

How does the method work?

The new method is comparable to an imaging method using ultrasound, but with significantly higher performance. The method is called histotripsy and focuses ultrasound beams on target tissue. It is currently being tested on humans at Baptist Health South Florida Hospital.

To destroy tumors, the transducers that generate ultrasonic waves create microbubbles in the tissue. These bubbles cause the tissue to expand rapidly and then collapse. In the end they will be destroyed.

According to Xu’s explanations, traditional ultrasound machines used in imaging use low-amplitude pulses.

The advantages of histotripsy

According to scientists, the method using ultrasound has many advantages. It has been observed not to cause the same side effects as other approaches such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The latter sometimes leave patients in a state of advanced debilitation.

In any case, many tests are still needed to find out whether histotripsy is really effective and safe for liver cancer patients. The study’s lead author, Tejaswi Worlikar, a PhD student in biomedical engineering at UM, said they hope the results of their study can motivate future work on preclinical and clinical histotripsy. The ultimate goal of this work would be to use this method to treat liver cancer patients.

SOURCE: Futuristic

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