Study: HIFU may combat both isolated and metastatic cancer tumor cells

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A recent study by Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering highlights new therapeutic high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) applications addressing both isolated and metastatic cancer tumor cells, according to Misonix, a developer of ultrasonic medical technology for the treatment of cancer and other chronic health conditions. 

Although HIFU is an acoustic ablation technique that has been previously used to kill tumors through the delivery of heat therapy, Duke researchers have discovered that HIFU might be even more effective if it is first delivered in a manner that shakes the cells. The shaking ruptures tumor cell membranes, which causes them to spill their contents. In turn, the toxic spill alerts the immune system to the cancer threat, leading to the production of tumor-fighting white blood cells.

Duke researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Translational Medicine on August 3 this year. The new procedure has the potential to tackle both primary tumors and cancers that have spread to other organs without the need for surgery.

“We now think that HIFU delivered in a different mode, with emphasis on using mechanical vibration to break apart the tumor cells, may have an even more significant impact in suppressing cancer metastasis by waking up the immune system,” the study authors reported in the journal.

These findings suggest that combination therapy of heat from HIFU to treat the primary tumor and HIFU-boosted immunotherapy for combating any residual and metastatic tumor cells may potentially be an innovative and effective approach.