Skip to main content UVA Health School of Medicine Logo UVA Health School of Medicine Logo
The Making of Medicine

Tiny Bubbles to Kill Glioblastoma Tumor Cells

Our Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, is pioneering a new application of focused ultrasound that  is showing promise against glioblastoma, the deadliest brain tumor, in very early testing. The approach also may prove useful against other cancers in sensitive parts of the body that are difficult to get at.

Dr. Sheehan, a neurosurgeon, is using a “sonosensitizing” drug to make the cancer cells susceptible to sound waves. He then hits them with focused ultrasound, which causes tiny bubbles to form inside the cells, killing them.

The work is early, but Dr. Sheehan’s tests on cell samples in lab dishes have yielded encouraging results. He and his collaborators concluded that the technique has “substantial potential for treatment of malignant brain tumors and other challenging oncology indications,” such as breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.

“Sonodynamic therapy with focused ultrasound offers a new therapeutic approach to treating patients with malignant brain tumors,” Dr. Sheehan said. “This approach combines two approved options, [the drug] 5-ALA and focused ultrasound, to produce a powerful tumoricidal effect on several different types of glioblastomas.”

I’ll have news of another interesting glioblastoma finding for you soon. In the meantime, you might check out this post on another interesting application of focused ultrasound we’re developing.

Reply & View Comments

  1. Suzanne Worsfold says:

    I hope you come up with a cure. My brother was just diagnosed with glioblastoma yesterday when his tumor was removed at OSF in Peoria, IL.

  2. Denise says:

    My husband died from glioblastoma. It was on the left hemisphere of the brain. Can any of this new findings help my son to determine if he has the gene?

    1. Josh Barney, blog editor says:

      Please check out this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *