April 20, 2024

New Technique Using Doppler Ultrasound Shows Promise in Predicting Chemotherapy Response

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a novel approach to personalized medicine by using Doppler ultrasound to detect chemoresistance in cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a crucial treatment for cancer patients, but some individuals may not respond well to their prescribed chemotherapy, leading to wasted time and delayed treatment. By understanding chemoresistance better, researchers can match the right type of chemotherapy to the right patient, ultimately improving treatment outcomes.

The research team, consisting of physicists and veterinary scientists, believes that their method of detecting chemoresistance could become the new standard for personalized medicine. Doppler ultrasound, commonly associated with weather reports and visualizing unborn babies, is being used to measure how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy. The technique, known as biodynamic imaging (BDI), measures the mechanical motions within cancer cells and how these motions change when exposed to anticancer drugs.

Lead researcher David Nolte, a physics professor at Purdue University, explains that the cellular machinery within cancer cells produces motion, and patients who respond positively to chemotherapy exhibit different mechanical responses to the drugs compared to non-responders. By using BDI, researchers can identify patients for whom chemotherapy is unlikely to be successful, allowing them to be directed towards more effective treatments.

The development of BDI for cancer treatment has been ongoing for over eight years. Although previous studies showed potential for identifying chemoresistance, it was unclear whether the technique would be effective for a wider range of diseases and conditions. However, the current research demonstrates that BDI is a reliable and robust technique, as it produced similar results in two different species (human and canine) and two different types of cancer (lymphoma and esophageal cancer).

The use of Doppler ultrasound in cancer research may seem unconventional, but Nolte attributes the serendipity of discovery to decades of scientific experimentation. The initial work was conducted on cancer tissue cultures grown in the lab, which eventually progressed to fresh tumors obtained from patients. During the experiments, the researchers observed interesting dynamic effects and discovered the potential of Doppler measurements.

The collaboration between the researchers began over two decades ago when they met at a meeting hosted by the Office of the Purdue Executive Vice President for Research. They initially worked with tumor spheroids, small tumors grown in culture, to develop the technology. As the technology advanced, they transitioned to patient-derived tumors, using samples from canine lymphoma patients to determine the feasibility of translating the technique to human samples. Collaboration with Dr. Shadia Jalal of the IU School of Medicine has been instrumental in the research, providing invaluable insights and support.

The team’s method of personalized chemotherapy detection is currently in Phase II clinical trials in humans at the IU School of Medicine, offering hope for improved treatment outcomes for cancer patients. By accurately predicting chemotherapy responses, personalized medicine can be achieved, ensuring that each patient receives the most effective treatment tailored to their individual needs. The use of Doppler ultrasound may revolutionize cancer treatment, providing a non-invasive and efficient way to determine chemoresistance and guide treatment decisions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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