New technique destroys cancer using sound waves
A new technique that destroys cancer using sound waves also prompts the immune system to kill any remaining tumors, scientists have revealed. Non-invasive treatment should only be partially effective in stopping the cancer from spreading.
It is currently being tested in human liver cancers in the United States and Europe following successful trials in rats. The University of Michigan team showed that noninvasive sound technology is able to prevent further spread without any evidence of recurrence or metastasis in the majority of cases.
The treatment, called histotripsy, noninvasively focuses ultrasound waves to mechanically destroy target tissue with millimeter precision. In many cases, an entire cancerous tumor cannot be directly targeted in treatments due to the size, location or stage of the mass.
However, the researchers studied the effects of partially destroying tumors with 50 or 75 percent sound and found that the technique was still very effective. They showed that in 80% of the cases performed on rats, the immune system destroyed the rest of the tumor and it did not come back.
Professor Zhen Xu, from the University of Michigan, said: “Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can still regress the tumor and also reduce the risk of future metastasis. Our transducer delivers high-amplitude, microsecond-pulse ultrasound—acoustic cavitation—to focus on the tumor specifically to break it up.
“Traditional ultrasound devices use lower amplitude pulses for imaging.”
Tejaswi Worlikar, PhD student in biomedical engineering, said, “Histotripsy is a promising option that can overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities and provide safe and effective non-invasive ablation of liver tumors. We hope that the lessons learned from this study will motivate future preclinical studies. and clinical investigations of histotripsy toward the ultimate goal of clinical adoption of histotripsy therapy for patients with liver cancer.”
The study was published in the journal Cancers.