This is unpublished
Dr. Tatiana Khokhlova
December 20, 2021

Ultrasound may help breach pancreatic cancer defenses

Researchers are studying the ultrasound's ability to create fissures in tumors that would allow therapeutics inside.
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Faculty Research

Pancreatic cancer, aside from being notoriously undetectable in its early stages, is also hard to eradicate after it's discovered. The tumors are like armed fortresses – nearly impregnable to cancer drugs and immunotherapies, and encased in a tangle of collagen fibers around their exteriors, says Dr. Tatiana Khokhlova, research associate professor (Gastroenterology).

But after 12 years of research, Khokhlova thinks she may have a way to infiltrate these tumors.

In murine tests, Khokhlova and researchers in the UW's Applied Physics lab have engineered technology that directs a focused beam of pressure, via an ultrasound device, on the tumor. Ultrasound waves jostle the tumor, creating small pulsating bubbles, which in turn create cracks within. The fissures allow therapeutics to enter.

“Pulses of focused ultrasound and cavitation that occur inside the tumor will insert these little cracks and pores and channels through the tumor,” she said. “That would then make it more permeable to anything that's administered systemically, be it chemotherapy or immunotherapy or any other agent used to combat the cancer.”


Read more from UW Medicine Newsroom.