According to a news statement from Tel Aviv University released on Tuesday, researchers have developed a new method to eliminate cancerous tumours by injecting nanobubbles into the bloodstream and then exploding them.
A single grain of salt is 2,500 times larger than the bubbles. They work by assembling around the tumour and exploding when low-frequency ultrasound waves trigger them.
The non-invasive approach, according to the researchers, has already been tested on a mouse model with breast cancer.
According to Dr. Tali Ilovitsh of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, “Our innovative technology makes it possible to inject nanobubbles into the bloodstream rather simply, which then gather in the area of the cancerous tumour.”
The nanobubbles and the tumour are then exploded using a low-frequency ultrasound.
Replacing surgical removals
Researchers are now hoping that their treatment could replace the surgical removal of tumors in humans.
It is notably effective for treating solid tumours deep within the body and is appropriate for individuals who are unable to undergo tumour resection surgery. However, there is one disadvantage: the heat and high intensity of the ultrasonic waves may cause tissue damage surrounding the tumour.
By injecting nanobubbles into the bloodstream rather than the tumour itself, Dr. Ilovitsh and her team hope to solve this problem.
“The combination of nanobubbles and low-frequency ultrasound waves allows for more specific targeting of the tumor area and reduces off-target toxicity,” explained Dr. Ilovitch.
“Applying a low frequency to nanobubbles causes them to swell & explosion extremely, even at low pressures. This allows for the mechanical destruction of tumors at low pressure thresholds.
The use of nanobubbles makes it easier to target tumours because they can be seen using ultrasonic imaging, in addition to having the advantages of ultrasound in terms of safety, effectiveness, and clinical availability.
Helping in the treatment of tumors
In addition, Dr. Ilovitsh noted that the use of low-frequency ultrasound reduces distortion and attenuation while enlarging the focal point and increases depth penetration.
“This can help treat tumors deep within the body and also facilitate treatment of larger tumor volumes. The experiment was conducted in a laboratory model of breast cancer tumors, but it is likely that the treatment will also be effective in other tumor types in future also in humans.
Keren Primor Cohen, CEO of Ramot, the university’s technology transfer organisation, has already filed for multiple patents related to the new technology.
“We believe in the commercial potential of this breakthrough technique in cancer therapy,” Cohen said. “We are in contact with several top companies in Israel and overseas to promote it.”
The researchers’ study has been published in the journal Nanoscale.