New way to treat cancer using gas bubbles

June 28th, 2010 - 12:33 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 27 (IANS) Researchers have found a novel technique of destroying cancer cells in the body - injecting exploding gas bubbles into the blood stream.
The research team from Leeds University developed the technique that uses microscopic gas bubbles to carry chemotherapy drugs to tumours, where the drugs can target the cancer cells.

Each of the tiny bubbles, which are less than a tenth of the width of a human hair, can be specifically targeted towards cancer cells so that they clump around the tumour.

A pulse of ultrasound then causes the gas inside the bubbles to vibrate until the bubble bursts and the resulting shock wave also punches small holes in the cancer cells allowing the drugs to go inside.

The researchers claim the new technique will help increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment by targeting cancer directly while also cutting down on the harmful side effects caused by the toxic drugs when they attack healthy cells elsewhere in the body.

Lead researcher Stephen Evans hopes to start trials in animal models within the next three years.

“By targeting the bubbles to the cancerous tissue, it means we can deliver far higher concentrations of drug to the tumour than is normally possible in chemotherapy,” quoted Evans as saying.

“We are exploiting the physics of how the gas inside the bubbles responds when it is hit by a pulse of ultrasound,” he added.

The researchers are initially trying out the technique as a treatment for colorectal cancer but they hope it can be adapted to treat other cancers by changing the chemotherapy drug and the antibody on the outside of the bubble.

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