Using Embolisms to Fight Cancer

Three test tubes containing bubbles, the middle of which is red

Blocking blood vessels by creating embolisms is, under most circumstances, very bad. But researchers are exploring ways to fight cancer by intentionally and strategically creating these blockages. In gas embolotherapy, researchers inject fluid droplets, which can carry chemotherapy drugs, into the bloodstream. Once they circulate into a cancerous tumor, they use ultrasound to vaporize the droplet and create a gas bubble. Those bubbles lodge inside the capillaries of the tumor, starving it of fresh blood and trapping the chemotherapy drugs inside. It’s a one-two punch to the cancer. Without blood flow, the cancer cells die, and, since the cancer-killing drugs get mostly trapped inside the tumor, patients may require lower dosages and endure fewer side effects. The technique is currently in animal testing, but hopefully it will be a valuable therapy for human patients in the future. (Image credit: Chemical & Engineering News; research credit: Y. Feng et al.; via AIP)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: