It is estimated that 9 million people will die from cancer in 2015 and the latest statistics published by the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that this year alone more than 3.2 million lives have already been claimed. Also, in spite of advances in new drugs and biotechnology, cancer is undoubtedly a serious and potentially life-threatening disease and it is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

ultrasound-activated cancer drug

Some advanced methods and some anti-cancer drugs have been shown effective for the treatment of cancer and some drugs do not as in many cases, the drugs fail to reach the targeted tumor cells – either they get absorbed by healthy tissues or the pressure inside the tumours prevents them from being absorbed, and when this happens, there is a high risk of cancer to re-emerge after the treatment.

However, researchers from the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) hope to ditch these barriers by implementing one of the most advanced systems of drug delivery known as nanotechnology based targeted drug delivery system.

To make the drug delivery even more effective, the researchers developed a range of new techniques for creating tiny particles into which drugs can be inserted which then would be used to fire a beam of ultrasonic vibrations at.

When firing the beam, the researches include a gas or a liquid that easily vaporizes so that the particles when exposed to the ultrasound, the gas or liquid undergoes a rapid expansion and forces the drug out of the particle.

This process of firing beam of ultrasonic vibrations at the particles produces vapour bubble known ultrasound activated bubbles. With the motion of ultrasound-activated bubbles, the drugs can be driven out of the blood vessels to ensure precise delivery of the drugs to the targeted tumor cells.

This way, the ultrasound-activated cancer drug can target cancerous tumours more effectively. In the future, researchers hope to come up with more advanced techniques and create more effective drugs, using both ultrasound and shockwaves, that go straight to the location of a tumour. [The Conversation]