Cancerous tumors in the bodies of mice were destroyed by Israeli scientists through ‘controlled explosions’ that tore through the cancer cells.
The scientists want to develop this procedure for the human body as well and believe that it could become an alternative to surgery for tumor patients one day.
The lab mice were injected with ‘nanobubbles’ of gas that are about 2,500 times smaller than one grain of salt.
How they work?
After the bubbles were injected in the veins, they spread in the body with the blood, but the scientists decided where they wished to ‘detonate’ them.
They did so when the bubbles reached the tumor and low-ultrasound frequency was used to pop them.
The research was led by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Tali Ilovitsh, who said that applying the ultrasound causes the bubbles to grow 100 times their normal size.
They eventually explode and this damages all the nearby tissues, which means their detonation can destroy the tumor.
She likened it to the controlled explosions that are carried out when demolishing buildings that are designed to be strong enough for destroying a particular building, but not others nearby.
This is how the bubbles target the tumor in the body, but do not cause harm to any other parts of the body.
She added that she hoped to eventually move the research from mice to human application. She added that they had carried out the experiment in a mouse injected with breast cancer tumor.
She said that it was expected to be helpful in dealing with other kind of tumors as well and in human beings in the future.
The journal named Nanoscale published the peer-reviewed study headed by Ilovitsh, along with Mike Bismuth, her PhD student.
Other people who participated in the study included Dr. Dov Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Agata Exner from the Cleveland, Ohio in the United States, who works at the Case Western Reserve University.
There are already some human cancer cases in which ultrasound is used successfully. It targets tumors through skin application, but it generates heat because it is of high-intensity.
Therefore, it can also harm the tissues that are close to the tumor. Only low-intensity ultrasound is needed for the bubble technique.
Ilvotish said that this would prevent collateral damage in the body. She also said that there had been previous research on using bubbles for treating cancer, but no actual treatments had been developed.
She stated that most of the research involved injecting the bubbles directly into the tumor, which makes it invasive.
However, her method is non-invasive because it involves attacking the tumor through the bloodstream. She stated that they do not directly touch the tumor.
She said that they leverage a unique quality that tumors have; their blood vessels ‘leak’. This means that the nanobubbles enter the tissue tumor from the vessels.
Once they have entered the tissue, the low-intensity ultrasound can be used for detonating the bubbles, thereby attacking the tumors.