Mechanical high intensity focused ultrasound (mHIFU): exploring the synergistic effects between killing tumor cells and inducing antitumor immunity in vivo.

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2019
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Morphological sciences
    • Oncology
    • Morphological sciences
    • Oncology
    • Morphological sciences
    • Oncology
ultrasound tumor cells
Project description

The discovery that certain types of “classical” cancer therapies, including specific chemotherapeutic
drugs and radiotherapy regimens were able to kill tumor cells in such a way that they alert the
patient’s immune response, revolutionized our view on the interaction of these therapies with the
immune system. This so-called immunogenic cell death (ICD) brings about an army of immune cells
that can specifically recognize and destroy cancer cells all over the body. Recently, we found strong
indications that mechanical HIFU (which is short for high intensity focused ultrasound) might very
well also induce ICD. This technique is already clinically used to non-invasively and in a very sitespecific
manner debulk solid tumors using ultrasound waves. In this project, we aim to further
explore the potential of mechanical HIFU to simultaneously tackle the primary tumor while evoking
an antitumor immune response that could address distant metastasis, in more complex in vivo
models. This way, we intend to figure out to what extent this immune response also occurs in
tumor-bearing mice and how strong this response is with respect to controlling tumor growth and
the occurrence of metastasis. Importantly, by closely investigating which immune cells are involved
in this process, we will be able to further optimize this HIFU therapy, and to determine which type
of cancer immunotherapy might be best suited to further boost or sustain the evoked immune