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immune system

Scientists Use Sound to Destroy Half of Liver Tumors – and Boosted Immune Systems Cleared Away the Rest

in Health/Technology 268 views

Noninvasive sound technology developed at the University of Michigan 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.

“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.

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.

A breakthrough

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.

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Magnesium May Prime the Immune System to Fight Cancer and Infections

in Food/Health 1,561 views

A simple mineral we all learned about in high school PE class could be the active ingredient in a new method of cancer treatment and prevention. In this way, magnesium has gone from being something to help us play sports longer to something that lets us play life longer.

That’s because magnesium acts like a bridge between killer T cells, a critical immune system weapon, and cancerous cells by binding to a protein on the T cell’s exterior called LFA-1, which allows them to then hone in on cancer cells which in turn have many ways to disguise themselves ordinarily.

Cell-surface binding and receptor proteins are areas of key interactions in studying physiological effects, and the COVID-19 pandemic taught many people how important these interactions, sometimes called docking, can be to our health.

The research came from a recent paper published in Cell, which found that killer T cells were only able to eliminate cancerous or infected cells in rats if their LFA-1 proteins had bound with free available magnesium.

In light of their discoveries, the research team from Switzerland looked at past studies of cancer immunotherapies and found that low-magnesium concentrations were strongly linked to a more rapid progression of disease. In addition, they found that influenza and other viruses spread faster in mice that were fed a magnesium deficient diet.

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