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07/06/2024

Vall d'Hebron incorporates new ultrasound device to advance in cancer research

Acte de presentació del nou aparell d'histotrípsia

Presentation event of the new histotripsy device in Vall d'Hebron.

07/06/2024

The team will investigate, in animal models, the benefits of histotripsy, a technique that allows tumors to be destroyed without incision or heat, and hopes to minimize the risks and enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy.

Vall d'Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus advances in oncology research thanks to the recent incorporation of a new histotripsy device manufactured exclusively for our institution from Virginia Tech University. This innovative device, which will be tested on animal models* as part of basic research, uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to destroy tissues and tumors mechanically without the need for radiation or skin incisions. The device, officially presented at an event held on June 6, was acquired thanks to a grant from Cris Contra el Cáncer, under the program "Vivir es urgente", in memory of the musician Pau Donés.

The new equipment has been manufactured by Virginia Tech University especially for Vall d'Hebron by bioengineer Eli Vlaisavljevich, a pioneer in the development of histotripsy. This technology will be tested at Vall d'Hebron in the framework of the research line on high intensity focused ultrasound (FUSMED), led by Dr. Xavier Serres i Créixams, interventional radiologist of the Radiology Service of Vall d'Hebron Hospital and principal investigator of the Molecular Medical Imaging group of VHIR.

Pioneering technology worldwide

Histotripsy is a technique that uses ultrasound to achieve tumor removal. Unlike other techniques that use ultrasound for the same purpose, histotripsy produces a mechanical trituration of the tumors without generating heat.

In addition to achieving tumor destruction at the site of therapy, the fact that the tumor is destroyed without generating heat prevents proteins from denaturing and allows a more precise and potent immune response to be generated. "Histotripsy not only destroys the primary tumor, but could also help the immune system to identify and attack metastases in other parts of the body that have not been directly treated with ultrasound", explains Dr. Xavier Serres.

Previously, Vall d'Hebron had already participated in the Theresa and Hope4Liver studies, together with the company Histosonics. "A team of expert radiologists from Vall d'Hebron carried out the first validation studies of the histotripsy technique in humans worldwide, and this has allowed the commercialization of a histotripsy device for humans in the United States. Now we are going to contribute to the development of the technique in animal models, to improve its future applications", explains Dr. Manel Escobar, Clinical Director of Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine at Vall d'Hebron. "With this new device we will also explore new ways to combine histotripsy with immunotherapy to increase the efficacy of cancer treatments. Advancing in the knowledge of the benefits of hystotripsy is key to improving the survival and quality of life of patients", assures Dr. Serres.

"Histotripsy is a breakthrough in the multidisciplinary treatment of advanced or metastatic tumors", says Dr. Josep Tabernero, head of the Medical Oncology Department at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and director of the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO). "The incorporation of this pioneering technology in the field of preclinical research at the Vall d'Hebron Campus opens the door to continue advancing in the comprehensive treatment of cancer patients, always offering them the best technology and the best treatment possibilities".

*Institutional Declaration on the Use of Animals in Research

Related news

The device, called Winco USG, is a simulation platform for holistic and integrated training of professionals performing this type of procedure.

Using computed tomography (CT), with or without contrast, it is possible to perform an accurate and safe detection of the disease without the need for biopsies and avoiding the limitations of other non-invasive diagnostic tools.

This new technology will be completely harmless for patients, as it does not use radiation, and will offer superior image quality and better monitoring of tumours, among other benefits.

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Xavier Serres Créixams

Xavier Serres Créixams

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Inés Carolina Balón Llerena

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Gemma Cuberas Borros

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