Exploding microbubbles that tear cancer cells like ‘targeted warheads’

From New Atlas:

Lately we’ve seen an exciting string of research projects demonstrate how ultrasound can be harnessed to fight cancer, whether that be by helping drugs cross the blood-brain barrier, heating and destroying tissue in prostate cancers, or selectively killing tumor cells while leaving healthy ones unharmed. Adding to this burgeoning potential is a new study that combines ultrasound with microbubbles, which can be blasted apart like a “targeted warhead” to destroy the majority of tumor cells in breast cancer models.

The breakthrough was made by an international research team led by biomedical engineers at Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU), where the scientists were experimenting with microbubbles as a way of treating cancer. These tiny bubbles are filled with gas and, when subjected to sound waves at certain frequencies, can behave like balloons that expand and contract.

The next round of experiments produced some exciting results. The team found that by directly injecting the microbubbles into tumors in mouse models, and then applying a low frequency ultrasound of 250 kHz to blow them up, they were able to wipe out large numbers of the cancerous cells.

Another exciting and novel application for this ultrasound-microbubble combination concerns the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. One study published in April showed how ultrasound treatment can cause injected microbubbles to cause temporary disruptions to the blood-brain barrier to allow the penetration of drugs that treat the disease. Ilovitsh hopes to use this new approach to pursue similar objectives.

Story source: New Atlas.

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