New technique remotely activates chemotherapy with ultrasound

Researchers from the U.K. have used ultrasound to activate heat-sensitive capsules filled with doxorubicin chemotherapy after they arrived at liver tumors, according to an article published online on 9 July in Lancet Oncology.

Senior author Dr. Constantin Coussios and colleagues from the University of Oxford injected heat-sensitive lipid capsules containing 50 mg/m2 of doxorubicin chemotherapy into 10 patients with liver tumors. Then they focused an ultrasound beam onto the liver tumor, increasing the temperature in that region to above 39.5° C. This elevated temperature subsequently drove more of the chemotherapy agent into the tumor.

Based on tumor biopsies, the group found that ultrasound exposure increased chemotherapy concentrations by an average of 3.7 times within the liver tumor of the patients, from 2.34 µg/g before ultrasound exposure to 8.56 µg/g after ultrasound exposure.

"It is possible to safely trigger and target the delivery of chemotherapy deep within the body using focused ultrasound," Coussios said. "Once inside the tumor, the lipid capsules release the drug, supplying a higher dose of chemotherapy directly to the tumor, which may help to treat tumors more effectively."

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