Cancer immunotherapy has been a selective and safe option for treatment of certain types of cancer when compared with radiation and chemotherapy, as immunotherapy targets specific immune cells of the body to combat tumors, thus acting in a more specific and targeted manner.
Due to the immune system’s capacity to selectively target and destroy cancer antigens, cancer immunotherapy could provide durable and healthier therapeutic options to patients. Focused ultrasound (FUS: a technique which uses ultrasonic energy guided by magnetic resonance or ultrasound imaging to treat tissue deep in the body without incisions or radiation) is now thought to play a role in cancer immunotherapy.
Preclinical and clinical studies have shed light on FUS’s capacity to induce an immune response within the patient’s body. In particular, FUS is thought to activate tumor cells to release antigens and danger signals, generating ‘awareness’ within host cells to use their natural abilities to combat cancer (immune response). Furthermore, FUS’s can enhance overall survival and prevention of tumor regrowth.
Both low and high intensity FUS are now being tested in laboratories for better results upon combination with cancer immunotherapy. Moreover, combining FUS and radiation or chemotherapeutic agents might also lead to improved results and lower the harmful toxic side-effects of the latter.
“Cancer immunotherapy… continues to surge as clinical researchers amass evidence that the immune system can be a powerful ally against tumors. One big focus now is mixing and matching treatments: combining two novel immunotherapies,” writes Science Magazine, in its Areas to Watch 2015 report.