• Otávio Santiago

Scientists Have Eradicated Liver Cancer in Rats Using Non-Invasive Sound Waves

Rats afflicted with liver cancer have demonstrated the efficacy of a fascinating, non-invasive treatment.

Using focused ultrasound, scientists have managed to destroy up to 75 percent of the volume of a liver tumor. The treatment also seems to trigger the rats' immune systems into taking over and clearing the rest.

In 80 percent of the animals, the cancer seemed to be destroyed, with no sign of metastases or recurrence in the three months they were monitored for, the researchers said.

The treatment, called histotripsy, is currently being trialed in humans with liver cancer.

"Histotripsy is a promising option that can overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities and provide safe and effective non-invasive liver tumor ablation," said biomedical engineer Tejaswi Worlikar of the University of Michigan.

"We hope that our learnings from this study will motivate future preclinical and clinical histotripsy investigations toward the ultimate goal of clinical adoption of histotripsy treatment for liver cancer patients."

Developed and pioneered at the University of Michigan, histotripsy seems to offer new hope for patients with one of the deadliest forms of cancer: the five-year survival rate for liver cancer is currently lower than 18 percent in the US. The technique employs an ultrasound transducer, not for bouncing off internal structures for imaging purposes, but to physically disrupt cancerous tumors.

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