Tumors Partially Destroyed with Sound Don’t Come Back

Noninvasive sound technology developed at the University of Michigan (U-M) breaks down liver tumors in rats, kills cancer cells and spurs the immune system to prevent further spread—an advance that could lead to improved cancer outcomes in humans. By destroying only 50% to 75% of liver tumor volume, the rats’ immune systems were able to clear away the rest, with no evidence of recurrence or metastases in more than 80% of animals.

The 700kHz, 260-element histotripsy ultrasound array transducer used in Prof. Xu’s lab

Even if we don’t target the entire tumor, we can still cause the tumor to regress and also reduce the risk of future metastasis,” said Zhen Xu, professor of biomedical engineering at U-M and corresponding author of the study in Cancers. Results also showed the treatment stimulated the rats’ immune responses, possibly contributing to the eventual regression of the untargeted portion of the tumor and preventing further spread of the cancer.

The treatment, called histotripsy, noninvasively focuses ultrasound waves to mechanically destroy target tissue with millimeter precision. The relatively new technique is currently being used in a human liver cancer trial in the United States and Europe. In many clinical situations, the entirety of a cancerous tumor cannot be targeted directly in treatments for reasons that include the mass’ size, location or stage. To investigate the effects of partially destroying tumors with sound, this latest study targeted only a portion of each mass, leaving behind a viable intact tumor. It also allowed the team, including researchers at Michigan Medicine and the Ann Arbor VA Hospital, to show the approach’s effectiveness under less than optimal conditions.

Histotripsy is a promising option that can overcome the limitations of currently available ablation modalities and provide safe and effective noninvasive liver tumor ablation,” said Tejaswi Worlikar, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering. “We hope that our learnings from this study will motivate future preclinical and clinical histotripsy investigations toward the ultimate goal of clinical adoption of histotripsy treatment for liver cancer patients.”

Liver cancer ranks among the top 10 causes of cancer related deaths worldwide and in the U.S. Even with multiple treatment options, the prognosis remains poor with five-year survival rates less than 18% in the U.S. The high prevalence of tumor recurrence and metastasis after initial treatment highlights the clinical need for improving outcomes of liver cancer. Where a typical ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the body’s interior, U-M engineers have pioneered the use of those waves for treatment. And their technique works without the harmful side effects of current approaches such as radiation and chemotherapy.

Our transducer, designed and built at U-M, delivers high amplitude microsecond-length ultrasound pulses—acoustic cavitation—to focus on the tumor specifically to break it up,” Xu said. “Traditional ultrasound devices use lower amplitude pulses for imaging.”

Source: https://news.umich.edu/

Burst of Ultrasound Waves Can Break up Kidney Stones in 10 minutes

A small study shows that ultrasound bursts reduce kidney stones‘ volume by 90%, according to research published this week in the Journal of Urology.

Using burst wave lithotripsy (BWL), UW Medicine urologists were able to fragment the stones in 10-minute procedures on patients who were under anesthesia. Eventually, urologists could use this procedure on conscious patients in a clinic visit, said Dr. Mathew Sorensen, a study co-author. Kidney stones are common, affecting 1 in 10 Americans at a cost of $10 billion per year to treat, the report said.  While many stones pass on their own, treatments are sometimes needed to help expel them.

Every year, more than 600 people in the throes of kidney-stone pain seek emergency care at Harborview and UW Medical Center (University of Washington)  in Seattle. Kidney stones that become stuck in the urinary tract can cause debilitating pain: The obstruction of urine flow also can result in kidney swelling and cramping and set the stage for infection or lasting damage. Many stones can be treated with a technique called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) where sound waves are used to break the stone so that the fragments would be more likely to pass. In some cases, however, ESWL only fractures the stones rather than pulverizing them, Sorensen said.  Ureteroscopy is another minimally invasive way to treat stones but often requires a temporary stent, which can be quite uncomfortable.

The ways we have to currently treat stones have some downsides,” he said. “Most involve anesthesia.”

In contrast to the shock waves used in ESWL, the BWL procedure uses “short harmonic bursts” of ultrasound energy, potentially enabling the stones to be broken up in a shorter procedure without the need for sedation or anesthesia. Pre-clinical studies supported the effectiveness of BWL in breaking experimental stones of varying size and composition, the study noted.

In this study, Sorensen and urology colleague Dr. Jonathan Harper, the study’s lead author, performed initial studies in human patients with kidney stones. The patients were undergoing ureteroscopy, which is used to treat larger stones. Before that treatment, the stones were treated with BWL for no longer than 10 minutes. Using the ureteroscope, the researchers were able to directly observe how well the ultrasound waves worked to break the stones, as well as observe any injury to the kidney tissues.

Source: https://newsroom.uw.edu/

Turn Stem Cells Into Bone Using Nothing More Than Sound

Researchers have used sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells, in a tissue engineering advance that could one day help patients regrow bone lost to cancer or degenerative disease. The innovative stem cell treatment from RMIT researchers in Australia offers a smart way forward for overcoming some of the field’s biggest challenges, through the precision power of high-frequency sound waves.

Tissue engineering is an emerging field that aims to rebuild bone and muscle by harnessing the human body’s natural ability to heal itself. A key challenge in regrowing bone is the need for large amounts of bone cells that will thrive and flourish once implanted in the target area. To date, experimental processes to change adult stem cells into bone cells have used complicated and expensive equipment and have struggled with mass production, making widespread clinical application unrealistic. Additionally, the few clinical trials attempting to regrow bone have largely used stem cells extracted from a patient’s bone marrow – a highly painful procedure.

In a new study published in the journal Small, the RMIT research team showed stem cells treated with high-frequency sound waves turned into bone cells quickly and efficiently. Importantly, the treatment was effective on multiple types of cells including fat-derived stem cells, which are far less painful to extract from a patient. Co-lead researcher Dr Amy Gelmi said the new approach was faster and simpler than other methods.

A magnified image showing adult stem cells in the process of turning into bone cells after treatment with high-frequency sound waves. Green colouring shows the presence of collagen, which the cells produce as they become bone cells

The sound waves cut the treatment time usually required to get stem cells to begin to turn into bone cells by several days,” said Gelmi, a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT. “This method also doesn’t require any special ‘bone-inducing’ drugs and it’s very easy to apply to the stem cells. “Our study found this new approach has strong potential to be used for treating the stem cells, before we either coat them onto an implant or inject them directly into the body for tissue engineering.”

The high-frequency sound waves used in the stem cell treatment were generated on a low-cost microchip device developed by RMIT. Co-lead researcher Distinguished Professor Leslie Yeo and his team have spent over a decade researching the interaction of sound waves at frequencies above 10 MHz with different materials. The sound wave-generating device they developed can be used to precisely manipulate cells, fluids or materials. “We can use the sound waves to apply just the right amount of pressure in the right places to the stem cells, to trigger the change process,” Yeo said. “Our device is cheap and simple to use, so could easily be upscaled for treating large numbers of cells simultaneously – vital for effective tissue engineering.”

Source: https://www.rmit.edu.au/

Brain Surgery Without a Scalpel

The School of Medicine from the University of Virginia (UVA) researchers have developed a noninvasive way to remove faulty brain circuits that could allow doctors to treat debilitating neurological diseases without the need for conventional brain surgery. The UVA team, together with colleagues at Stanford University, indicate that the approach, if successfully translated to the operating room, could revolutionize the treatment of some of the most challenging and complex neurological diseases, including epilepsy, movement disorders and more. The approach uses low-intensity focused ultrasound waves combined with microbubbles to briefly penetrate the brain’s natural defenses and allow the targeted delivery of a neurotoxin. This neurotoxin kills the culprit brain cells while sparing other healthy cells and preserving the surrounding brain architecture.

A new alternative to brain surgery developed at UVA can wipe out out problematic neurons, a type of brain cell, without causing collateral damage.

This novel surgical strategy has the potential to supplant existing neurosurgical procedures used for the treatment of neurological disorders that don’t respond to medication,” said researcher Kevin S. Lee, PhD, of UVA’s Departments of Neuroscience and Neurosurgery and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG). “This unique approach eliminates the diseased brain cells, spares adjacent healthy cells and achieves these outcomes without even having to cut into the scalp.”

The new approach is called PING, and it has already demonstrated exciting potential in laboratory studies. For instance, one of the promising applications for PING could be for the surgical treatment of epilepsies that do not respond to medication. Approximately a third of patients with epilepsy do not respond to anti-seizure drugs, and surgery can reduce or eliminate seizures for some of them. Lee and his team, along with their collaborators at Stanford, have shown that PING can reduce or eliminate seizures in two research models of epilepsy. The findings raise the possibility of treating epilepsy in a carefully-targeted and noninvasive manner without the need for traditional brain surgery.

Another important potential advantage of PING is that it could encourage the surgical treatment of appropriate patients with epilepsy who are reluctant to undergo conventional invasive or ablative surgery. In a scientific paper newly published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, Lee and his collaborators detail the ability of PING to focally eliminate neurons in a brain region, while sparing non-target cells in the same area. In contrast, currently available surgical approaches damage all cells in a treated brain region.

A key advantage of the approach is its incredible precision. PING harnesses the power of magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) to let scientists peer inside the skull so that they can precisely guide sound waves to open the body’s natural blood-brain barrier exactly where needed. This barrier is designed to keep harmful cells and molecules out of the brain, but it also prevents the delivery of potentially beneficial treatments.

The UVA group’s new paper concludes that PING allows the delivery of a highly targeted neurotoxin, cleanly wiping out problematic neurons, a type of brain cell, without causing collateral damage.

Source: https://newsroom.uvahealth.com/

Flexible device could treat hearing loss without batteries

Some people are born with hearing loss, while others acquire it with age, infections or long-term noise exposures. In many instances, the tiny hairs in the inner ear’s cochlea that allow the brain to recognize electrical pulses as sound are damaged. As a step toward an advanced artificial cochlea, researchers in ACS Nano report a conductive membrane, which translated sound waves into matching electrical signals when implanted inside a model ear, without requiring external power.

An electrically conductive membrane implanted inside a model ear simulates cochlear hairs by converting sound waves into electrical pulses; wiring connects the prototype to a device that collects the output current signal.

When the hair cells inside the inner ear stop working, there’s no way to reverse the damage. Currently, treatment is limited to hearing aids or cochlear implants. But these devices require external power sources and can have difficulty amplifying speech correctly so that it’s understood by the user. One possible solution is to simulate healthy cochlear hairs, converting noise into the electrical signals processed by the brain as recognizable sounds. To accomplish this, previous researchers have tried self-powered piezoelectric materials, which become charged when they’re compressed by the pressure that accompanies sound waves, and triboelectric materials, which produce friction and static electricity when moved by these waves. However, the devices aren’t easy to make and don’t produce enough signal across the frequencies involved in human speech. So, Yunming Wang and colleagues from the University of Wuhan wanted a simple way to fabricate a material that used both compression and friction for an acoustic sensing device with high efficiency and sensitivity across a broad range of audio frequencies.

To create a piezo-triboelectric material, the researchers mixed barium titanate nanoparticles coated with silicon dioxide into a conductive polymer, which they dried into a thin, flexible film. Next, they removed the silicon dioxide shells with an alkaline solution. This step left behind a sponge-like membrane with spaces around the nanoparticles, allowing them to jostle around when hit by sound waves. In tests, the researchers showed that contact between the nanoparticles and polymer increased the membrane’s electrical output by 55% compared to the pristine polymer. When they sandwiched the membrane between two thin metal grids, the acoustic sensing device produced a maximum electrical signal at 170 hertz, a frequency within the range of most adult’s voices. Finally, the researchers implanted the device inside a model ear and played a music file. They recorded the electrical output and converted it into a new audio file, which displayed a strong similarity to the original version. The researchers say their self-powered device is sensitive to the wide acoustic range needed to hear most sounds and voices.

Source: https://www.acs.org/
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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Ultrasound Waves Eliminate Prostate Tumours 2 Times Out Of 3

Blasting prostate cancer with sound waves eliminates tumours in nearly two thirds of patients, a study suggests. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles, who tested the technology on 115 men with prostate cancer, saw tumours destroyed in 80 per cent of men they treated.

And 65 per cent of patients were still clear of cancer a year later. Some 47,000 men each year develop prostate cancer in the UK. Despite rapid advances in other cancer types, which have resulted in falling death rates, the number of men who die from prostate cancer is still going up, with 11,800 men in Britain lost each year to the disease. And of those who do survive, many are left with severe side effects as a result of surgery, including incontinence and impotence. The new treatment, called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation – or TULSA – comes with few of those side effects, the researchers said.  TULSA works by delivering precise doses of sound waves to diseased prostate tissue while sparing surrounding healthy nerve tissue.

It works using on a rod-shaped device, inserted into the urethra, which sends out sound waves from 10 ultrasound-generating elements. The elements are controlled automatically by a software algorithm that can adjust the shape, direction and strength of the therapeutic ultrasound beam. The procedure takes place in an MRI scanner so that doctors can closely monitor treatment and assess the degree and location of heating.

The technique – which uses precise pulses of ultrasound to attack tumours in a session lasting less than an hour – could mean many men avoid surgery

Unlike with other ultrasound systems on the market, you can monitor the ultrasound ablation process in real time and get immediate MRI feedback of the thermal dose and efficacy“, said Research leader Professor Steven Raman. ‘It’s an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time.’

The treatment, which took an average of 51 minutes, saw prostate volume decreased on average from 39 cubic centimeters 3.8 cubic centimeters a year after treatment. Blood levels of ‘prostate-specific antigen’, or PSA, a marker of prostate cancer, fell by an average of 95 per cent. There were low rates of severe toxicity and no bowel complications.

We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90 per cent in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence,’ Professor Raman said.

The device, which is already approved for clinical use in Europe, is an advance on another technique that has been used on the NHS for several years called ‘HIFU‘, or high-intensity focused ultrasound. TULSA could also be used to treat men with non-cancerous enlarged prostate – a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH – which affects half of all men over the age of 50, and 60 per cent of those over 60.

There are two very unique things about this system,’ Professor Raman said. ‘First, you can control with much more finesse where you’re going to treat, preserving continence and sexual function. ‘Second, you can do this for both diffuse and localised prostate cancer and benign diseases, including benign hyperplasia.’

TULSA also has the benefit of allowing further treatment if needed, he said. If it fails, then the procedure can be repeated, and more aggressive invasive approaches like surgery and radiotherapy can still be used.

Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK and many face a difficult decision about what treatment they should have. Current treatments for localised disease, such as surgery or radiotherapy, can be very effective, but they are not without a risk of side effects. ‘In addition, many men with low-risk prostate cancer may be able to avoid radical treatments like this altogether, and instead have their cancer monitored under active surveillance. ‘Whilst novel treatments like this one could potentially cause fewer side effects, we cannot tell from these results alone whether this could be as effective as the treatment options that are currently available and if so, which men could benefit the most.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Smart Materials Built With The Power Of Sound

Researchers have used sound waves to precisely manipulate atoms and molecules, accelerating the sustainable production of breakthrough smart materials.  Metal Organic Frameworks, or MOFs, are incredibly versatile and super porous nanomaterials that can be used to store, separate, release or protect almost anythingPredicted to be the defining material of the 21st century, MOFs are ideal for sensing and trapping substances at minute concentrations, to purify water or air, and can also hold large amounts of energy, for making better batteries and energy storage devices. Scientists have designed more than 88,000 precisely-customised MOFs – with applications ranging from agriculture to pharmaceuticals – but the traditional process for creating them is environmentally unsustainable and can take several hours or even days

Now researchers from RMIT in Australia have demonstrated a clean, green technique that can produce a customised MOF in minutes. Dr Heba Ahmed, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, said the efficient and scaleable method harnessed the precision power of high-frequency sound waves.

Dr Heba Ahmed holding a MOF created with high-frequency sound waves

MOFs have boundless potential, but we need cleaner and faster synthesis techniques to take full advantage of all their possible benefits,” Ahmed, a postdoctoral researcher in RMIT’s Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory, said. “Our acoustically-driven approach avoids the environmental harms of traditional methods and produces ready-to-use MOFs quickly and sustainably. “The technique not only eliminates one of the most time-consuming steps in making MOFs, it leaves no trace and can be easily scaled up for efficient mass production.

Metal-organic frameworks are crystalline powders full of tiny, molecular-sized holes. They have a unique structuremetals joined to each other by organic linkers – and are so porous that if you took a gram of a MOF and spread out its internal surface area, you would cover an area larger than a football pitch. Some have predicted MOFs could be as important to the 21st  century as plastics were to the 20th.

During the standard production process, solvents and other contaminants become trapped in the MOF’s holes. To flush them out, scientists use a combination of vacuum and high temperatures or harmful chemical solvents in a process called “activation”. In their novel technique, RMIT researchers used a microchip to produce high-frequency sound waves. Co-author and acoustic expert Dr Amgad Rezk said these sound waves, which are not audible to humans, can be used for precision micro- and nano-manufacturing.

At the nano-scale, sound waves are powerful tools for the meticulous ordering and manoeuvring of atoms and molecules,” Rezk said.

Source: https://www.rmit.edu.au/

How To Turn Data Into Ultrasonic Sound Waves

The ultrasonic communication technology company Sonarax in Israel, unveils a new standard in machine-to-machine (m2m) connectivity allowing devices to communicate with one another using sound waves. The protocol is the largest global infrastructure install base and operates on any device that has a built-in speaker or microphone. Sonarax provides a highly reliable alternative for m2m connectivity and it works even when the internet, GPS, and cellular networks are unavailable.

The protocol performs pairing between devices and transfer of data on both encrypted and open channels using sound waves. It provides significantly easier and faster deployments of m2m applications such as sonic QR codes, mobile payments, and ID authentication.

Sonarax‘s protocol requires no special hardware and is easy to deploy and use. This protocol can be integrated with any application across various operating systems, including Windows, Android, and iOS, and is already embedded in leading sonic processors. Sonarax utilizes frequencies beyond the threshold of human hearing and can be intertwined with any audio channel carried by media, including, TV, and others to introduce additional communication data, such as advertising information and more.

Sonarax’s ultrasonic technology was designed to provide initial solutions in three main important areas:

  • Ultrasonic Payments: Facilitating secure pairing for mobile payments and contactless ATM interaction – already in pilot with major global banks and financial institutions.
  • Ultrasonic Authentication: Providing a seamless and secure identification solution –  a fully developed and off-the-shelf SDK that can be easily integrated and used by any third party application
  • Ultrasonic Indoor Positioning: Allowing indoor positioning in buildings such as shopping malls and hospitals where GPS stops working. Sonarax is working to implement its technology for novel indoor navigation functionality to be launched at a later date.

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We’re utilizing the existing element of sound to modernize machine-to-machine connectivity so that it enhances payment authentication and for the first time can also be used for indoor positioning,” explains Benny Saban, CEO of Sonarax. “Sound cannot fail or be compromised and we’re excited to finally reveal our product at MWC and get consumers onboard to the next generation of device communication.

Source: https://www.sonarax.com/

Artificial Skin Opens SuperHuman Perception

A new type of sensor could lead to artificial skin that someday helps burn victimsfeel’ and safeguards the rest of us, University of Connecticut (UConn)  researchers suggest in a paper in Advanced Materials.

Our skin’s ability to perceive pressure, heat, cold, and vibration is a critical safety function that most people take for granted. But burn victims, those with prosthetic limbs, and others who have lost skin sensitivity for one reason or another, can’t take it for granted, and often injure themselves unintentionally. Chemists Islam Mosa from UConn, and James Rusling from UConn and UConn Health, along with University of Toronto engineer Abdelsalam Ahmed, wanted to create a sensor that can mimic the sensing properties of skin. Such a sensor would need to be able to detect pressure, temperature, and vibration. But perhaps it could do other things too, the researchers thought.

It would be very cool if it had abilities human skin does not; for example, the ability to detect magnetic fields, sound waves, and abnormal behaviors,” said Mosa.

Mosa and his colleagues created such a sensor with a silicone tube wrapped in a copper wire and filled with a special fluid made of tiny particles of iron oxide just one billionth of a meter long, called nanoparticles. The nanoparticles rub around the inside of the silicone tube and create an electric current. The copper wire surrounding the silicone tube picks up the current as a signal. When this tube is bumped by something experiencing pressure, the nanoparticles move and the electric signal changes. Sound waves also create waves in the nanoparticle fluid, and the electric signal changes in a different way than when the tube is bumped.

The researchers found that magnetic fields alter the signal too, in a way distinct from pressure or sound waves. Even a person moving around while carrying the sensor changes the electrical current, and the team found they could distinguish between the electrical signals caused by walking, running, jumping, and swimming.

Metal skin might sound like a superhero power, but this skin wouldn’t make the wearer Colossus from the X-men. Rather, Mosa and his colleagues hope it could help burn victimsfeelagain, and perhaps act as an early warning for workers exposed to dangerously high magnetic fields. Because the rubber exterior is completely sealed and waterproof, it could also serve as a wearable monitor to alert parents if their child fell into deep water in a pool, for example.

Source: https://today.uconn.edu/