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19.12.19

World-first 'acoustic cluster therapy' cancer treatment given in UK

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust has treated a patient with ‘acoustic cluster therapy’ to improve chemotherapy delivery to tumours for the first time in the world.

The clusters of microdroplets and microbubbles are administered alongside the patient’s chemotherapy and the technology, called acoustic cluster therapy, uses a standard ultrasound scan to convert the clusters into an activated form within the tumour.

Once activated, with further ultrasound the clusters help to ‘pump’ the drug into the tumour, greatly increasing the amount of drug which reaches the cancer cells, making the treatment more effective than ever before.

The treatment is currently being trialled at the Oak Foundation Drug Development Unit, part of The Royal Marsden, and the Institute of Cancer Research, funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The impact of this new development could see a reduced dose of drug, minimising the severity of the side effects whilst still maintaining effectiveness through better targeting of the cancer site.

The clinical trial phases will treat patients with tumours in the liver that have spread from the bowel or pancreas, collecting data on its effectiveness and safety.

If proved successful, the therapy could enter trials for other types of cancer, and ultimately help to cure certain people with cancer.

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Professor Udai Banerji, Deputy Director of the Oak Foundation Drug Development Unit said: “Our new clinical trial follows on from promising preclinical research that shows this acoustic cluster technology could help to increase the dose of chemotherapy to tumours, potentially allowing a reduced dose to the rest of the body. 

“This trial is a real cross-team effort involving radiologists, physicists and nurses who all work together to provide the treatment and support the patient throughout the process. We’re hopeful that through this collaborative research we can help open up a much-needed new option for patients with hard-to-treat advanced cancers.”

Acoustic cluster therapy was invented by Norwegian company, Phoenix Solutions and further developed with proof-of-concept studies by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

Karen Childs is currently being treated for secondary cancer in her liver following her diagnosis in November 2013, and commented: “I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet that I’m the very first patient in the world to be receiving this new treatment! This trial is an exciting step for the hospital and a huge step for patients like me, it really would make a big difference to patient’s lives if side effects could be reduced in the future using more targeted treatments like this. It’s an incredible opportunity to be on this trial and the staff at The Royal Marsden have been amazing and very supportive.”

Photo: The Royal Marsden photograph of Karen Childs.

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