University of Michigan Makes Liver Cancer Breakthrough Using Sound
The University of Michigan has a longstanding reputation for being a leader in the field of medical advancements. Just days ago U of M made their latest announcement when it comes to making strides in the area of cancer treatment advancements, specifically liver cancer.
A recent study at the university shows a new non-invasive technique was proven effective at reducing tumor volume by nearly 50-70 percent in a clinical trial using rats. This new breakthrough could lead to improved outcomes for both those suffering from liver cancer among other neurological conditions.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Zhen Xu, says even if health professionals aren't able to target the entire tumor, the procedure will still cause the tumor to shrink which will reduce the risk of any further growth or "metastasis."
The new treatment technique, called histotripsy, is a non-invasive procedure which focuses ultrasound waves on a tumor to mechanically destroy the tissue. Whereas we commonly use ultrasound waves to produce an image, such as a fetus in the womb, the university has been able to harness these waves for treatment by creating a microsecond-long pulse that generates tiny bubbles within the tissue. These bubbles then expand and contract, putting stress on the tumor tissue and killing the cancer cells. Once the tissue structure of the tumor has been attacked, the tumor will then begin to shrink leaving the patient's immune system to clear away the rest.
Doctoral student Tejaswi Worlikar says,
Histotripsy is a promising option that can overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities and provide safe and effective noninvasive liver tumor ablation...We hope that our learnings from this study will motivate future preclinical and clinical histotripsy investigations toward the ultimate goal of clinical adoption of histotripsy treatment for liver cancer patients.
Liver cancer is among the top 10 causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Despite multiple treatment options, prognosis is typically poor and there is a high recurrence and metastasis rates. Hopefully this new non-invasive procedure will provide effective results without the harmful side effects of chemotherapy or radiation. I will remain optimistic!