Monday, July 24, 2006

New Weapons Against Tumors: Bubbles

The day is approaching when doctors may use bubbles as "corks" to suffocate tumors, this according to a press release at EurekAlert.org.

In the past, embolization, or "the process of blocking blood flow to a tumor," was conducted with solids like special gels or clotted blood. But researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a process that uses gas.

Here's how it works. First, a perfluorocarbon droplet is added to the bloodstream by way of intravenous injection. Next, doctors use ultrasound to track the droplet as it travels through a patient's body. When the droplet reaches a blood vessel that's feeding a tumor, scientists fire a "high intensity ultrasound" beam. The blast causes the perfluorocarbon droplet to expand into a gas bubble that blocks blood flow to the tumor. Without blood, the tumor dies.

According to the report, this type of embolotherapy may be most valuable in combating a form of liver cancer that claims over a million lives each year.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.