Ultrasound Cancer Treatment
Kills Tumors in Mice


LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists at a Northern Ireland biotech company are developed a new non-invasive technique that has been used to destroy cancer cells in mice.
Instead of surgery, drugs or radiation treatment, researchers at Gendel used an electric field and ultrasound to kill cancerous cells in the laboratory and tumors in 50 mice, a science magazine said Wednesday.
Although it is in early stages of development, the company believes the technique could one day be used to treat head and neck tumors and hopes to begin human trials in two years.
"The technique relies on the application of an electric field to a tumor to make it susceptible to a follow-up blast of ultrasound," according to New Scientist.
"The combination appears to cause tumor cells to self-destruct."
The new procedure is based on a drug delivery technique that Gendel hopes to test in human trials later this year. It involves transporting drugs to hard-to-reach areas of the body by using the patient's own red blood cells.
The blood cells are sensitized outside the body with the electric field, which makes them permeable, and then filled with a drug and put back into the patient.
Ultrasound is directed to the tumor site and the cells with the drug which burst open putting the it exactly where it is needed.
Gendel scientists are still perfecting the double whammy cancer treatment and admitted they do not know why the cells rupture when hit by ultrasound.
The ultrasound fields used in the cancer treatment are stronger than those used to monitor the growth of babies in the womb and similar to the strength applied to muscles in sports medicine.
But other cancer treatments that have worked in animals have not been successful in humans. Cancer experts said more information about the new technique is needed.
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