Ultrasound waves can be used to kill cancer cells. The treatment, called sonodynamic therapy, first requires application of a drug called a sonosensitizer, which preferentially accumulates in cancer cells. Physicians can then activate this drug by applying ultrasound and thereby killing the malignancy.
Last month, Japanese scientists announced discovery of a new sonosensitizer, a derivative of Rose Bengal dye. It is said to be ten times more active than ordinary Rose Bengal. But sonodynamic therapy has been around for years. In 2008, I visited mainland China to investigate this treatment and wound up coauthoring a paper on its effects with Dr. X. Wang of Guangzhou. The treatment is also offered at the Dove clinic in England, the Hope4Cancer Institute in Mexico and the Indiana Center for Advanced Medicine in Indianapolis, usually in conjunction with the older technique of photodynamic therapy, which is the use of light and light-activated drugs in cancer.
(Important note: mention of any doctor or clinic in this blog does not constitute an endorsement on my part. It is simply given for informational purposes.)
The costs for this sort of treatment can be considerable. Nonetheless, the field continues to develop, and there are now almost 100 articles in PubMed on this new treatment idea. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Kenyon JN, Fulle RJ, Lewis TJ. Activated cancer therapy using light and ultrasound: A case series of sonodynamic, photodynamic therapy in 115 patients over 4 years. Current Drug Therapy. 2009;4(3): 179-193.
Sugita N, Iwase Y, Yumita N, Ikeda T, Umemura S. Sonodynamically induced cell damage using rose bengal derivative. Anticancer Res. 2010;30(9):3361-3366.
Wang X, Zhang W, Xu Z, Luo Y, Mitchell D, Moss RW. Sonodynamic and photodynamic therapy in advanced breast carcinoma: a report of 3 cases. Integr Cancer Ther. 2009;8(3):283-287.