New technique against cancer

The researchers headed the professor of physics Stephan Evans and Steve Furr of the electronics department are creating a many small bubbles in which carry chemotherapy drugs targeting tumor cells. Bubbles are gathered around these target cells, and an ultrasound pulse causes them to vibrate until they eventually pop out.

The burst of the bubble opens tiny holes in the cancer cell and the drug in the bubble is now fed into the cell. British scientists believe that the new method, when perfected, will increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy while reducing side effects for the patient from the toxicity of anticancer drugs, which can also attack healthy cells.

Researchers intend to first test the new technique in experimental animals over the next three years before commencing clinical trials in humans. We take advantage of the physics of how the gas in the bubbles reacts when it receives an ultrasound pulse, Evans said.

Microbubbles are already being used by physicians to provide clearer images in ultrasound examinations because the bubble gas reflects the ultrasound pulse better than the surrounding body tissue. The Leeds University research team discovered that using specific energy frequencies, the gas inside the microbubbles vibrates and finally causes the bubbles to burst from the inside out.

Researchers place antibodies that are attracted to cancer cells on the outside of the bubbles to ensure that they get stuck on cancer cells rather than on healthy ones. When the signal is given by the doctor (vibration from the ultrasound), the bubbles will burst onto the target cells, firing the chemotherapy drug in them.