Ultrasound technology helps destroy liver tumors in rats
Non-invasive sound technology developed at the University of Michigan breaks down liver tumors in rats, kills cancer cells and stimulates the immune system to prevent further spread.
By destroying only 50 to 75% of the liver tumor volume, the rats’ immune system was able to eliminate the rest, with no signs of recurrence or metastasis in more than 80% of the animals.
“Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can still regress the tumor and also reduce the risk of future metastasis,” said Zhen Xu, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering at UM and author principal of the study. study.
The results also showed that the treatment boosted the rats’ immune responses, possibly contributing to the eventual regression of the untargeted part of the tumor and preventing the cancer from spreading.
The treatment, called histotripsy, noninvasively focuses ultrasound waves to mechanically destroy target tissue with millimeter precision. The relatively new technique is currently being used in a human liver cancer trial in the United States and Europe.
In many clinical situations, the entirety of a cancerous tumor cannot be directly targeted in treatments for reasons such as the size, location or stage of the mass. To investigate the effects of partial tumor destruction with sound, this latest study targeted only a portion of each mass, leaving behind a viable intact tumor. It also allowed the team, including researchers from Michigan Medicine and Ann Arbor VA Hospital, to show the approach’s effectiveness in less than optimal conditions.
SEE ALSO: Ultrasound technology developed at UM is now in clinical trials for liver cancer
“Histotripsy is a promising option that can overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities and provide safe and effective noninvasive ablation of liver tumors,” said Tejaswi Worlikar, MS, PhD student in biomedical engineering. “We hope that the insights gained from this study will motivate future preclinical and clinical investigations of histotripsy toward the ultimate goal of clinical adoption of histotripsy therapy for patients with liver cancer.”
Liver cancer ranks among the top 10 causes of cancer-related death worldwide and in the United States. Even with multiple treatment options, the prognosis remains poor with five-year survival rates of less than 18% in the United States. The high prevalence of tumor recurrence and metastasis after initial treatment highlights the clinical need to improve liver cancer outcomes.