A new breakthrough in cancer research could lead to 'game changing' treatments for patients, after a team of scientists successfully destroyed liver tumours in rats using ultrasound waves.
Experiments showed that sound waves were able to destroy as much as 75% of the tumours, giving the rats' immune systems the ability to destroy any remaining tissues.
Best of all, the treatment didn't require any chemotherapy or invasive surgeries, which could drastically cut the physical toll of cancer treatment on patients – as well as the finances of hospitals.
The research team at the University of Michigan says that the technique could drastically improve outcomes for cancer patients.
“Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can still cause the tumor to regress and also reduce the risk of future metastasis,” said Zhen Xu, professor of biomedical engineering and co-author of the study.
The new technique, called histotripsy, is already being tested in a human liver cancer trial in the United States and Europe, and can be used to destroy cancerous tissue with a high degree of precision.
The machinery used in the test sends microsecond long pulses of ultrasound which create tiny bubbles within cancer tissue. These bubbles rapidly expand and then collapse, which kills cancer cells and breaks up a tumour's structure.
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Liver cancer is one of the top 10 causes of cancer deaths worldwide, with a survival rate of less than 18% in the USA.
The new treatment follows other promising developments in cancer research.
A new drug made of cannabas and mushrooms developed by an Israeli company has been proven to kill 60% of pancreative cancer cells, making it six times more effective than existing treatments.
The new drug will also be tested on breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer in the near future in the hope of reducing death rates from these diseases as well.
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