A team of Korean researchers has shed light on how high-intensity ultrasound eliminates tumors and cancerous tissues. This study is expected to pave the way for the development of new technologies for cancer surgery. The principle elucidated by the research team can be applied to development of a technology that can be used for anti-cancer immunotherapy and cell transplantation in the future.
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced on Jan. 22 that the study was carried out by Drs. Park Ki-joo and Kim Hyung-min at the Center for Bionics through joint research with Professor Nader Saffari at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of London, the United Kingdom.
The joint research team developed a mathematical model that predicts the acoustic cavitation (vibration and collapse of bubbles due to pressure changes) which occurs in the powerful ultrasonic context. Then, the team used this mathematical model to find out the mechanism of soft tissue removal by focused ultrasound.
Focused ultrasound is a technology that causes thermal necrosis of tissue without surgery by using high heat generated by collecting high intensity ultrasound energy into one focal point.
High-intensity focused ultrasound with a pressure of tens of megapascals (MPa), which is hundred times the atmospheric pressure, can raise the temperature of the focal point to a boiling point in as little as a thousandth of a second. At this time, the kinetic energy of the vapor bubbles generated at the focus point can be used to remove the surrounding cell tissues.
Park said, "If we find optimized sonication conditions using the mathematical modeling technique, we will be able to treat tumors without surgery and selectively remove specific cells."