Ultrasound-Activated Microbubbles Fight Cancer with targeted therapy
Posted Dec 04 2008 11:29pm
This is not ready for prime time yet, but a new technique under development from Phillips to help with chemotherapy in targeting the cancer cells directing, thus less of the drug going through the rest of the healthy tissue of the body where it is not needed.
Localizing chemotherapy without the entire body having to go through the entire process in the blood stream could bring some relief in the treatment of some cancers. We are seeing more and more of this type of targeted technology being developed to zero in on the areas that are directly affected instead of treating a large area. BD
Microbubbles are miniature gas bubbles, mostly containing oxygen or air, which can be uniformly suspended in a liquid such as blood. Due to their size, they can pass through even the smallest of blood vessels, and therefore are commonly used together with medical ultrasound imaging. Microbubbles reflect ultrasound better than blood or soft tissues, thus allowing them to be used for highlighting blood in ultrasound images. Until now, their common use was only as contrast agents.
When the tumor is located, the system shatters the shells of the microbubbles by means of a focused, high-energy ultrasound pulse. Once the shells are destroyed, the contents of the microbubbles spill into the surrounding area and the drugs reach the tumor directly instead of going through the whole bloodstream. This localized release technique prevents the drugs from influencing other systems in the body, thus preventing grueling side-effects and improving the quality of life of the patient undergoing chemotherapy.