Thermal ablation with magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) is a noninvasive technique for treating fibroids and cancer. New research from the University of California, Davis (UC-Davias) shows that combining the technique with nanoparticle-delivered chemotherapy can allow complete destruction of tumors in mice. MRgFUS combines an ultrasound beam that heats and destroys tissue, with magnetic resonance imaging to guide the beam and monitor the effects of treatment. The effectiveness of the treatment can be limited by the need to spare normal tissue or critical structures on the tumor margins, as well as the need to eliminate micrometastases. In a open-access report published online on November 23, 2015 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Katherine W. Ferrara (photo), Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC-Davis, and colleagues report on a strategy that can destroy an entire tumor without thermal destruction of the tumor margin. Her group demonstrated a dramatic increase in the concentration of anti-cancer chemotherapy within several types of MRgFUS thermal ablation-treated tumors. The article is titled “Ultrasound Ablation Enhances Drug Accumulation and Survival in Mammary Carcinoma Models.” "MRgFUS is already FDA-approved for the treatment of uterine fibroids and palliation of bone metastases. We hope to expand the indication for MRgFUS by supplementing it with chemotherapy," said first author Andrew Wong, a graduate student with the UC Davis Physician Scientist Training Program. Dr. Ferrara's previous research has shown that ultrasound-induced mild hyperthermia can enhance the accumulation of tiny nanoparticles carrying anti-cancer drugs, but the accumulation is dependent on the type of tumor.
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