Attacking metastatic breast cancer with sound

Drugs can be safely delivered to cancerous lymph nodes via the lymphatic system and then released inside the nodes using sound waves. Tohoku University researchers tested the treatment on mice with metastatic breast cancer and published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

"We believe that our technique has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for lymph nodes invaded by metastatic tumour cells," says Tetsuya Kodama, the Tohoku University biomedical engineer who led the study.

The treatment involves injecting vesicles carrying anticancer drugs into a pelvic lymph node. The vesicles travel through the lymphatic system to reach lymph nodes in the armpit affected by breast cancer metastases. When high power ultrasound is applied to the armpit, the vesicles rupture, leading to targeted drug release.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths amongst them. In its advanced stages, cancer cells can break away from the original tumour and travel through the lymphatic system to establish metastases in lymph nodes that can then travel to other parts of the body.

Disease prognosis could be improved if there was a way to safely and effectively treat lymph node metastases. Currently available treatments are highly invasive and can have severe side effects.

Kodama and his colleagues in Japan had previously tested their treatment on mice with a type of breast tumour that produces lymph node metastases with low invasive growth and well-defined borders. For this study, they tried the treatment on the more invasive metastases generated by breast cancer.

The team first used an ultrasound imaging technique to follow the movement of drug-free 'acoustic liposomes', vesicles containing gas bubbles, through the lymphatic system in mice. They were able to confirm that liposomes injected into a pelvic lymph node travelled to an armpit lymph node, where they settled.

They then injected breast cancer cells into the pelvic lymph nodes of another group of mice. The cancer cells quickly reached and invaded the armpit lymph node.

Acoustic liposomes carrying the anticancer drug doxorubicin were then injected into the pelvic lymph node. High-intensity sound waves were applied to the armpit area on the same and third days following the injection to rupture the liposomes and release the drug.

The team demonstrated that the treatment was effective in killing the cancerous tissue using a bioluminescence technique that monitors cancer growth, and by studying excised lymph nodes under a microscope.

Further investigations will be needed to determine the optimal injection rate and volume of the treatment to prevent lymphatic complications.

Kato S, Shirai Y, Sakamoto M, Mori S, Kodama T.
Use of a Lymphatic Drug Delivery System and Sonoporation to Target Malignant Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells Proliferating in the Marginal Sinuses.
Sci Rep 9, 13242 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49386-5.

Most Popular Now

BioMotiv and Bristol-Myers Squibb announce the lau…

BioMotiv, a mission-driven drug development accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for discovery and development, that advances breakthrough discoveries from ...

CEPI and GSK announce collaboration to strengthen …

CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and GSK announced a new collaboration aimed at helping the global effort to develop a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV...

Sandoz completes acquisition of Aspen's Japanese o…

Sandoz today announced that it has successfully completed the acquisition of the Japanese business of Aspen Global Incorporated (AGI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Aspen ...

Roche reports very strong results in 2019

In 2019, Group sales rose 9% to CHF 61.5 billion and core EPS grew 13%, ahead of sales. The core operating profit increased 11%, reflecting the strong underlying business...

Sanofi brain-penetrant BTK inhibitor meets primary…

The Sanofi Phase 2b study evaluating its investigational BTK (Bruton's tyrosine kinase) inhibitor (SAR442168), an oral, brain-penetrant, selective small molecule, achieve...

Sanofi completes acquisition of Synthorx, Inc.

Sanofi announced the successful completion of its acquisition of Synthorx, Inc. ("Synthorx") for $68 per share in cash. "The acquisition of Synthorx perfectly aligns w...

Merck donates one billionth praziquantel tablet

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it has already donated 1 billion tablets of praziquantel, the standard medication for the treatment ...

WHO, China leaders discuss next steps in battle ag…

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China in Beijing. They sh...

Poliovirus therapy shows potential as cancer vacci…

A modified form of poliovirus, pioneered at Duke Cancer Institute as a therapy for glioblastoma brain tumors, appears in laboratory studies to also have applicability for...

AstraZeneca divests rights to established hyperten…

AstraZeneca has agreed to sell the global commercial rights to Inderal (propranolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Tenoretic (atenolol, chlorthalidone fixed-dose combination), Ze...

Botanical drug is shown to help patients with head…

In a UCLA-led phase I clinical trial, a new plant-based drug called APG-157 showed signs of helping patients fight oral and oropharyngeal cancers. These cancers are locat...

FDA approves first drug for treatment of peanut al…

Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Palforzia [Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) Allergen Powder-dnfp] to mitigate allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, tha...