New Method Uses Ultrasound to Kill Tumors

The method is able to kill enough of a tumor that the body’s immune system can defeat the remainder and prevent recurrence.

Cancer Tumors Ultrasound Noninvasive Resize Md 1
Marcin Szczepanski, Michigan Engineering

A recent Interesting Engineering article discussed a new method for fighting liver cancer. The technique, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Michigan, uses noninvasive ultrasound waves to kill up to 75% of tumors in rats. The rodents’ immune systems were then able to take over and kill the residual cancerous tissue to prevent reemergence. "Even if we don't target the entire tumor, we can still cause the tumor to regress and also reduce the risk of future metastasis," said UM’s Professor Zhen Xu, an author on the study.

The technique is called “histotripsy,” and it emits ultrasound waves to mechanically kill targeted tissue with extreme precision. Because of this, the procedure is able to avoid common side effects associated with comparable treatments such as radiation poisoning. The concept is currently being tested in human liver cancer trials in the U.S. and Europe, and could be commercially available soon. 

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