Doctors have used focused ultrasound to destroy tumors in the body without invasive surgery for some time. However, the therapeutic ultrasound used in clinics today indiscriminately damages cancer and healthy cells alike.
Most forms of ultrasound-based therapies either use high-intensity beams to heat and destroy cells or special contrast agents that are injected prior to ultrasound, which can shatter nearby cells. Heat can harm healthy cells as well as cancer cells, and contrast agents only work for a minority of tumors.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and City of Hope Beckman Research Institute have developed a low-intensity ultrasound approach that exploits the unique physical and structural properties of tumor cells to target them and provide a more selective, safer option. By scaling down the intensity and carefully tuning the frequency to match the target cells, the group was able to break apart several types of cancer cells without harming healthy blood cells.
Their findings, reported in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, are a new step in the emerging field called oncotripsy, the singling out and killing of cancer cells based on their physical properties.
This project shows that ultrasound can be used to target cancer cells based on their mechanical properties. This is an exciting proof of concept for a new kind of cancer therapy that doesn't require the cancer to have unique molecular markers or to be located separately from healthy cells to be targeted." David Mittelstein, lead author on the paper Related Stories
Also in Industry News
How to decide whether or not to start treatment for prostate cancer?
Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 proteome via visual tools
$65m investment increases British Patient Capital’s exposure to life sciences and health technology