Ultrasound Technology Developed at U-M now in Clinical Trials for Liver Cancer

The University of Michigan is one of eight locations across the country where patients are enrolled in a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a technology that uses ultrasound to treat liver tumors.

The # HOPE4LIVER trial version will use the non-invasive technique to mechanically destroy primary and metastatic liver tumors.

The technology, called histotripsy, was Developed by UM researchers over more than 15 years and is being commercialized by a UM startup company, HistoSonics, who sponsors the process.

The use of ultrasound pulses is nothing new in medicine, but the process behind histotripsy is. While previous techniques used thermal energy to ablate tissue, histotripsy uses the energy of thousands of microbubbles – called cavitation – to emulsify tissue. And this can be done with great precision, closely targeting the tissues of interest.

Interventional radiologist Mischal Mendiratta-Lala, MD, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer and other types of abdominal cancer, is the lead investigator at the UM study center.

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“We are very excited to be taking this technology out of the lab and into a clinical trial where we can evaluate its safety and effectiveness for patients,” she says. “Preclinical models have been very encouraging in terms of the technology’s ability not only to non-invasively destroy tumors, but also to stimulate the body’s immune response against cancer.”

As a researcher, Mendiratta-Lala has worked closely with one of the key inventors of the technology, Zhen Xu, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering at UM, to analyze the influence of histotripsy in animal models of liver cancer.

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