JUN 06, 2018 5:28 AM PDT

Gas Embolotherapy: Potential New Drug Delivery System

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

The use of various techniques to cut off the blood vessels that feed tissue growth is known as embolization.

Embolization has acquired attention from the past few decades in the treatment of cancerous tumors. It is essentially a method of starving tumors from receiving a blood supply and nutrients necessary for cancer to thrive. It is also a method proven to be less invasive than surgery and require less use of injected chemotherapeutics, or the reduced use of lodged nanoscopic beads directly onto the blood vessels.

Now, scientists have found another form embolization, known as gas embolotherapy.

During gas embolotherapy, the blood supply is shut down using acoustic droplet vaporization (ADV), which utilizes microscopic gas bubbles induced from the exposure to ultrasonic waves.More specially, investigators from China and France have found that these microscopic gas bubbles could be used utilized in the drug discovery process as a potential drug delivery system. "We have found that gas embolotherapy has great potential to not only starve tumors by shutting off blood flow, but also to be used as a source of targeted drug delivery," explains Yi Feng, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Xi'an Jiaotong University and first co-author of the paper.

In gas embolotherapy, investigators inject droplets, in tens to hundreds of nanometers in diameter, into the feeder vessels surrounding the tumor. Microscopic gas bubbles are then produced from the droplets through an ultrasound, and growing large enough to prevent the feeder vessels (e.g., arterioles). Transforming droplets into bubbles is a process known as ADV. In older studies, investigators used ADV to starve tumors from a nutrient supply, however, the ADV worked to not only prevent arterioles blood supply, but ADV allowed gas bubbles to make their way into capillaries producing vessel rupture and a leaky microvasculature.

Now, gas embolotherapy through ADV was studied to further explore the dynamics of bubble formation inside the capillaries. These research findings could provide a one-two punch for cancer treatment: 1) cutting blood supply to the tumors from the arterioles and 2) drug delivery through the capillaries. "In cancer therapy research, scientists are always interested in answering two questions: how to kill the cancer effectively and how to reduce the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs," said Mingxi Wan, professor of biomedical engineering also at Xi'an Jiaotong University and corresponding author of the paper. "We have found that gas embolotherapy has the potential to successfully address both of these areas."


Source: American Institute of Physics

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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