Oxford spin-out raises £2.7m for ultrasound-based cancer treatment

January 24, 2014 //By Nick Flaherty
Oxford spin-out raises £2.7m for ultrasound-based cancer treatment
A spin-out from the University of Oxford has raised £2.7m to use ultrasound to fight difficult-to-treat cancers and chronic low back pain.

OxSonics is developing technology which uses ultrasound devices in combination with ultrasound-sensitive nanoparticles. The technology can provide real-time on-screen feedback to the clinician about where and when drug delivery or surgery has been successful.
“What we discovered is that tiny bubbles can be triggered by ultrasound at the nanoscale to cause a wide range of therapeutic effects, ranging from improved drug delivery in tumors to non-invasive removal of the intervertebral disc," said lead researcher Professor Constantin Coussios of Oxford’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering. "These bubbles can be used not only as promoters but also as markers of treatment. Ultrasound is best known for its diagnostic capabilities. For drug delivery, we will be using similar power settings to those used for conventional imaging applications. “
In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Oxsonics cofounders Professor Coussios, Dr Christian Coviello and Dr Robert Carlisle and their team showed that ultrasound can create tiny bubbles which ramp up the attack on tumors.
“A particular type of ultrasound-induced bubble activity, known as inertial cavitation, was found to be key – as bubbles collapse, they agitate the fluid around them, pumping anti-cancer drugs deeper into the tumours than ever previously reported,” said Coussios. Compared to drug treatment without ultrasound, the team found that cavitation-enhanced delivery significantly hindered tumour growth and increased the survival rates of the mice being studied.
“Ultrasound can dramatically enhance delivery of drugs, particularly for next-generation therapeutics such as immune therapies or virotherapies,” he added. “This focuses drug treatment at the site of the tumour, potentially reducing or avoiding damage to other parts of the body, a hazard associated with the use of chemotherapy drugs.”
In the absence of ultrasonic cavitation, the therapeutic agent (in green, bove) only affects those cancer cells (in blue) that are immediately adjacent to blood vessels (in red). In the presence of ultrasound induced cavitation activity, the therapeutic agent (in green) reaches


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