According to research conducted by Israeli scientists, a combination of ultrasound and nanobubbles could destroy cancer tumors, eliminating the need for invasive treatments. Scientists from Tel Aviv University say that a new technology they developed makes it possible to destroy cancerous tumors in a targeted manner, via a combination of ultrasound and the injection of nanobubbles into the bloodstream. According to the research team, unlike invasive treatment methods or the injection of microbubbles into the tumor itself, this latest technology enables the destruction of the tumor in a non-invasive manner.
This is the third cancer treatment breakthrough to come out of Israel in November alone. A study also from Tel Aviv University found that aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by 72%. According to the researchers, intense aerobic exercise increases the glucose (sugar) consumption of internal organs, thereby reducing the availability of energy to the tumor. And as if that were not enough, TAU scientists also developed a new cancer treatment that they say may significantly enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients, reducing the risk for lung metastasis following chemo from 52% to only 6%.
The study was conducted under the leadership of doctoral student Mike Bismuth from the lab of Dr. Tali Ilovitsh at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, in collaboration with Dr. Dov Hershkovitz of the Department of Pathology. Prof. Agata Exner from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland also participated in the study. The study was published in the journal Nanoscale.
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In the new study, researchers succeeded in destroying a cancerous tumor using a non-invasive method: the injection of nanobubbles into the bloodstream in combination with low frequency ultrasound waves. The nanobubbles and ultrasound waves cause the bubbles concentrated in the cancerous tumor to explode. The treatment was performed using safe, low-pressure levels and focused only on the area of tumor, which reduces off-target toxicity and avoids damage to healthy tissues. The study was carried out using an animal model.
Dr. Tali Ilovitsh: “Our new technology makes it possible, in a relatively simple way, to inject nanobubbles into the bloodstream, which then congregate in the area of the cancerous tumor. After that, using a low-frequency ultrasound, we explode the nanobubbles, and thereby the tumor.”
The researchers explain that today, the prevalent method of cancer treatment is surgical removal of the tumor, in combination with complementary treatments such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Therapeutic ultrasound to destroy the cancerous tumor is a non-invasive alternative to surgery.
This method has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it allows for localized and focused treatment; the use of high-intensity ultrasound can produce thermal or mechanical effects by delivering powerful acoustic energy to a focal point with high spatial-temporal precision. This method has been used to effectively treat solid tumors deep within in the body. Moreover, it makes it possible to treat patients who are unfit for tumor resection surgery. The disadvantage, however, is that the heat and high intensity of the ultrasound waves may damage the tissues near the tumor.
In the current study, Dr. Ilovitsh and her team sought to overcome this problem. In the experiment, which used an animal model, the researchers were able to destroy the tumor by injecting nanobubbles into the bloodstream (as opposed to what has been until now, which is the local injection of microbubbles into the tumor itself), in combination with low-frequency ultrasound waves, with minimal off-target effects.