Friday, 10 August 2007

Ultrasound may launch attack on cancer, say Duke researchers

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A high-intensity form of ultrasound, HIFU, that shakes a tumor until it's cell starts to leak can set off an "alarm" that calls the body's immune defenses into play against the cancer, according to a study from Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering.

These findings suggest that once the immune system is activated, it might then seek and destroy the cancer cells, including those that have spread into the bloodstream. This study was done in mice.

If this effect is also true for humans, such a treatment could hold much potential to tackle both primary tumors and metastatic cancer.

According to Pei Zhong, "HIFU in the current form can only be used to treat the primary tumor."

"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."

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