Ultrasound Waves Can Kill Cancer Cells - Know how? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Ultrasound Waves Can Kill Cancer Cells - Know how?

In 2019, there will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States.)

Therefore, cancer remains one of the scariest disease for the human kind. 

How does Cancer kill Humans?

Cancer is a generic term of a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumors and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, the latter process is referred to as metastasizing.  

Metastases are a major cause of death from cancer.

Is there any cure for cancer?

A team of biomedical engineer David Mittelstein at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena Found low-intensity ultrasound may allow physicians to target cancer cells based on their unique physical and structural properties. Any spillover of the energy should cause little harm to healthy tissue.

The treatment sends out pulses of sound waves – energy – that have a frequency above 20,000 hertz (cycle per second). That’s too high for our ears to hear. (That’s also what makes it “Ultra” sound.) Medical imaging relies on very short pulses of this low-intensity ultrasound.

Doctors had already used high-intensity ultrasound to kill cancer cells. These sound waves send lots of energy to a small, focused area. 

The waves vibrate water inside cells within that area. The waves water inside cells within that area. This causes the cells to heat up. A lot of targeted cells and their neighbors can reach 65 Celsius (149 Fahrenheit) in just 20 seconds. This kills cancer cells. The downside: it kills healthy ones too.

Why is that different?

Another Caltech lab had studies effects of low-intensity ultrasound on cancer cells, these cells differ from healthy ones. They have bigger nucleus. They’re softer, too. This other Caltech team created computer models of cancer cells. These models suggested that low-intensity ultrasound might kill those cells.
According to the Mittelstein, it is like how a trained singer can shatter a wine glass by singing a specific note.

This idea has been tested yet?

The biomedical engineer’s team set out to do that – first they mixed cancer cells with healthy blood cells and immune cells. The cells were all suspended in a liquid. Then the scientists directed short-pulsed of low-intensity ultrasound at this suspension.

The team tested different ultrasound frequencies (ranging from 300,000 to 650,000 Herts). They also tested different pulse durations (from 2 to 40 milliseconds). One minute of 500,000 Herts ultrasound, delivered in 20-millisecond bursts, killer nearly every cancer cell. It didn’t hurt the blood cells. It also left more than eight in every 10 immune cells unharmed. And the rates it a huge success.

What is the role of microbubbles in this process?

The treatment caused super-small microbubbles likely tiny bubbles of air present in the fluid to merge. The ultrasound eaves caused these bigger bubbles to oscillate (move back and forth).

The oscillation causes these microbubbles to grow, then violently collapse. To kill cancer cells.  Microbubbles oscillation was necessary – but not sufficient. Microbubbles oscillated in both healthy and cancer cells. But only the cancer cells.
The team notes, it would be vulnerable to certain frequencies of ultrasound. More damage occurred when the ultrasound waves bounced back to hit the cancer cells more than once.
The initial ultrasound waves are known as traveling waves. They move out of the machine that produces them. But when those waves hit a surface of some type, they can reflect back- into the oncoming traveling the colliding waves combine to a form special pattern known as a standing wave. And this wave has some “special stationary spots called nodes.

At these, the pressure remains constant. Some other stationary spot, called anti-nodes, also develop. In them, the pressure goes up and down at twice the amplitude of the traveling wave. In the end, bubbles in the standing eave oscillate more than do those in a normal wave. And that extra oscillation proved essential to killing cancer cells.
The team suspects the standing eave brings microbubbles closer together, which then boosts the ultrasound energy deposited on the cells.
According to Mittelstein, not all cells respond equally to this standing wave. Which do will depend on their physical properties. Here only cancer cells were harmed.
What do u understand by microbubbles technology?
Microbubbles are bubble smaller than one-hundredth of a millimeter in diameter, but larger than one micrometer. They have a widespread application in industry, life science, and medicine. They are used in medical diagnostics as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging.

WHO’s worldwide data of Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths (2).
Cancer-causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries (3).
Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2017, only 26% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.
The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion (4).
Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy (5).

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. The most common cancers are:
·         Lung (2.09 million cases)
·         Breast (2.09 million cases)
·         Colorectal (1.80 million cases)
·         Prostate (1.28 million cases)
·         Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases)
·         Stomach (1.03 million cases)
The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of:
·         Lung (1.76 million deaths)
·         Colorectal (862 000 deaths)
·         Stomach (783 000 deaths)
·         Liver (782 000 deaths)
·         Breast (627 000 deaths)

This technique is not ready to use in patients. This is just the first step in the process of developing a new treatment. But if the next stages go well, it might be a huge benefit to patients.
The team’s next experiments will go beyond targeting cells in liquid. They will focus on mounds of cells, which model a cancerous tumor. If they get similar cell killing in the treated tumor. This therapy could make a significant impact on cancer therapy.

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