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Ultrasound used to Enhance Chemotherapy
It’s the worst kind of curse to be afflicted by cancer – sometimes the only cure option available is chemotherapy which comes with its own side effects. The drugs that are used to kill the cancerous cells in your body end up damaging healthy tissue as well, causing adverse reactions like nausea, fatigue and pain. But there’s a way around this painful situation according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Scientists have discovered a new delivery method that makes it possible to target only the areas affected by the tumor by using special packets called nanobubbles to store drugs like doxorubicin that are used in chemotherapy treatments. When injected into mice, the bubbles traveled through their blood and accumulated in their tumors where they formed larger microbubbles. These areas, when exposed to an ultrasound scan, were open to imaging because of the echoes generated by the bubbles. The ultrasound also generated enough energy to burst the bubbles and release the drug directly onto the tumor.
The nanobubbles ended up serving two purposes – they helped image the tumor and also allowed the drug to be delivered only to the tumor-affected area thus preventing healthy tissue from being killed in the process.
Ultrasound is extremely popular as a diagnostic and imaging tool because it offers various advantages, the most significant of which is the fact that it uses no radiation to form images and so, is extremely safe even for children and unborn fetuses. But with the innovations that are being made in medicine day by day, new uses are being discovered for ultrasound, and the treatment of cancer is just one of them.
For patients who have been diagnosed with the dreaded disease and their families, this piece of news comes as a ray of hope – they can undergo chemotherapy without having to worry about or fear the horrible side effects of the drug. And for the rest of us, we can take heart in knowing that this is one more battle won in the war against disease that mankind is waging.
This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of
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