This approach using ultrasound is proving impressive in eradicating tumors

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American researchers have developed a hybrid approach that uses ultrasound and the immune system to eliminate cancerous tumors through a dual defense mechanism.

A hybrid process

The idea of ​​treating various complaints non-invasively with sound waves has proven to be particularly attractive. In the last few weeks alone, various studies have shown that they can destroy kidney stones in record time, trick genetically engineered bacteria into attacking tumors, and even treat diabetes in preclinical studies.

Called histotripsy, the technique used by the team atUniversity of Michigan involves targeting cancerous tissue with high-intensity bursts of ultrasound lasting a few microseconds, creating tiny sacs in the tissue that rapidly expand and collapse. The resulting mechanical stress kills cancer cells and decomposes the tumor, whose fragments can then be safely absorbed by the body.

Because these may contain the ingredients needed to induce immunogenic cell death (where the immune system attacks tumor cells), the team investigated the possibility of partially destroying the tumor with bursts of ultrasound to trick the body’s defenses into finishing the job . This could prove particularly useful when these cancer structures are very large or difficult to access in their entirety due to their location.

The histotripsy ultrasound array transducer used by researchers

Particularly promising first results

Detailed in the review Cancer, the experiments involved destroying 50-75% of liver tumors in rats with ultrasound, effectively resulting in an enhanced immune response and eliminating the rest. Even more impressive, no signs of recurrence or metastasis were observed in 80% of rodents treated in this way.

Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can regress it and reduce the risk of future metastases “, highlighted Zhen XuLead author of the study.

While the team’s ultimate goal obviously remains the clinical introduction of this hybrid treatment, the next steps will be to pinpoint the immune mechanisms involved and adapt the approach to destroy tumors at different stages.

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