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Ultrasound Radiation to Enhance Release of a Tumor Biomarker

In studies on tumor-bearing mice, application of low-frequency ultrasound to tumor cells has been demonstrated to enhance the release of CEA, a biomarker of cancer, which can be measured in the blood (D’Souza et al. 2009). It was further established that this release is specific to the direct application of the ultrasound to the tumor, enabling a method for localization of biomarker production. Blood concentrations of that biomarker rose significantly only when ultrasound energy was directed to tumor sites but not when the ultrasound beam was focused on non-tumor-bearing tissues. This work will enable the detection of cancer in the pre-symptomatic stage using a relatively simple and noninvasive strategy. Future work using image-guided focused ultrasound to radiate tumors with ultrasound should help to bring together the currently separate fields of in vitro diagnostics and in vivo imaging and facilitate the development of personalized medicine. There is no significant regulatory impediments to the integration of this method into clinical practice, as ultrasound is already widely used in the clinic. It will be necessary to optimize the technique for use in humans and it will not work for all tumor types, e.g. lung or bone-marrow cancers, because ultrasound is impeded by bony structures and air-filled zones in the body. The proof of principle has been established for a single biomarker, CEA, and other biomarkers may prove more difficult to measure by this approach.

 
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