Ultrasound scans might be most familiar for getting a peek at a developing fetus, but the technology
could also be used to treat cancer. A partnership between UC Davis, Siemens Medical Systems and ImaRx
Inc., funded by a National Cancer Institute grant, will
study ways to deliver drugs to tumors using focused ultrasound. The five-year, $7 million Biomedical Research
Partnership grant is designed to bring together academics and industry to develop new medical technology.
The idea is to encapsulate cancer-fighting drugs into tiny bubbles that can be injected into the bloodstream
and steered to a tumor using ultrasound. Once there, the bubbles bind to the tumor by means of antibodies
or other molecules coating the bubble surface. A focused pulse of ultrasound can then be used to burst
the bubbles, delivering a drug directly to tumor cells.
UC Davis researchers led by Katherine Ferrara, professor and chair of biomedical
engineering, will carry out preclinical studies on the system. Siemens Medical Systems will design
and build the imaging equipment, and develop ways to direct pulses of ultrasound to a three-dimensional
volume. ImaRx, Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., makes the bubbles for drug delivery.