Pitt Researchers Studying Bubbles Filled With Medicine For Cancer Treatment

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From fun and games to life-saving treatment.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working to use bubbles in the fight against cancer, according to PittNews. 

At UPMC’s Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, scientists are experimenting with sonoporation, a technique that uses microscopic bubbles filled with medicine to treat cancer. The idea is to inject microbubbles into a patient’s bloodstream, while at the same time directing an ultrasound on a cancerous tumor.

The microbubbles will remain still until they enter the ultrasound field, when they’ll start vibrating and poking holes in the nearby cells.

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“We’re peering more closely into exactly how … this technology [works] ,” Flordeliza Villanueva, senior author of the study, said. “Now that we’re excited about its potential for affecting patient care, we really want to understand it in greater detail.”

Ultrasound technology is being used not just for imaging capabilities, but for therapeutic capabilities as well. Researchers say they have successfully used sonoporation to break up clots in stroke patients.

Researchers can use sonoporation to deliver drugs to treat cancer or to improve functioning of the cardiovascular system. The researchers fill microbubbles with drugs or genes and then inject them into the patient. The microbubbles travel freely throughout the bloodstream, as they are too large to exit the bloodstream without rupturing.

Once the team reaches clinical trials – in the next three to four years – the treatment will be a couple of routine procedures.

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