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The development of a cancer therapeutic system that targets cancer cells without causing collateral tissue damage is a key goal in oncology.  Currently, ultrasound tumor ablation systems rely on focusing high intensity waves to induce local heating and tissue disruption within cancerous tissue.  However, this mechanism can cause as much damage to healthy tissue as it does to cancerous tissue, and thus must be carefully targeted to prevent ablation of vital structures.  Recent computational studies suggest that low intensity ultrasound waves at specific resonance frequencies may induce lysis of cancerous cells without affecting non-cancerous cells.  This effect, referred to as “oncotripsy”, occurs through the induction of resonant oscillations in cellular membranes that lead to membrane rupture.  These resonance frequencies are a function of cellular mechanical properties and thus have different values in cancerous and non-cancerous cells. This predisposes cancer cells to be vulnerable to certain frequencies of ultrasound that have no effect on non-cancerous cells.  While this technology has been evaluated computationally to induce cell-specific death in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) without affecting healthy hepatocytes, no studies have been done to investigate its applicability to biological tissue.  

Our research involves investigating the feasibility of this ultrasound oncotripsy technology as a cancer therapeutic for HCC.  We aim to utilize in vitro and in vivo models of HCC to demonstrate oncotripsy’s efficacy and specificity in disrupting HCC.  The outcome of this research will provide insight into the potential of this technology as a cancer therapy for HCC and other solid tumors.